Trustee Reports

The last 12 months have been rather interesting in respect of assisting our clients in preparing their statutory accounts. In particular Trustee Reports have become a topic of conversation at the audit planning stage, if not throughout, our involvement. If you look at charity accounts on the Charity Commission website you will see that for most charities they all look very similar.  As a sector there has been a clear alignment of what is being filed at the Charity Commission with the Commission’s own example accounts.

What we are finding is that charities are having to work harder to compete for diminishing funds. With little money to spend, one way they are achieving this is by treating the audit and statutory accounts as more than just a compliance exercise and beefing up the Trustee Report and other information so this document can be used for marketing and profile raising.

There are some fairly simple solutions that can be adopted in the first instance:
  • Include tables or graphs – remember a picture can paint a thousand words
  • Include colour – break up the monotony of the black
  • Consider using 2 columns of text rather than filling the page left to right
  • Consider preparing accounts and reports in landscape format rather than portrait
If you want to go a step further:
  • Include pictures that are relevant to your charity’s activities, be it a glossy front page to catch the eye, or photos scattered throughout the document
  • Include links to your website where there is more information about your activities, achievements or plans
  • Include links to electronic photos
  • Use QR reader technology to scan a code and access further information and graphics via phones and tablets

This is all very much a cost vs benefit exercise. If you are a heavily endowed charity, who does not seek external funds and the only people who look at your accounts are your accountant, your trustees, and the Charity Commission; then, yes, we would agree that this is an expense with no discernible benefit for you. However for everyone else that is seeking funding from corporate entities or other charities then for a bit of effort in the first year to determine your “house style” and what elements you want to incorporate in your documents it could prove a very worthwhile exercise.

For an example of what you could be doing please click here.

This example Trustees’ report is designed to illustrate the impact of a different format in the presentation of information to the reader of a charity’s accounts. It is not designed as, nor should be relied upon as, a full template or disclosure checklist for the various requirements of Charities and Companies Acts or Financial Reporting Standards.