The council financial review is more than just a requirement to be checked off a list – it is an opportunity! The council’s financial review is a chance to involve local PTA members in the work of the council with a short volunteer opportunity. This increases the council’s transparency with its members and develops the pool of council volunteers that may eventually step up as council officers.
Here are some frequently asked questions about financial reviews:
Q: Who should lead the financial review process?
A: The president is responsible for appointing a financial review committee. It is helpful to include a non-signing member of the board of directors on the committee or to include a person who has done financial reviews in the past. This person should be assigned by the president to lead the process, communicate with the treasurer to set up the date and time of the review, and prepare the review materials for the committee. Alternatively, the president may set up the financial review; if they are an account signer, they may not participate in the review itself. The treasurer is responsible for ensuring that the review committee has (or has access to) everything on the checklist by the specified date and time.
Q: What must be done before the review?
A: Once a committee is appointed, the date and time are set for the committee to meet. A deadline for materials should be furnished to the treasurer well ahead of the meeting date. The treasurer will consult the financial review form, gather all needed materials for the committee, and ensure they are organized. The person organizing the review should also consult the financial review form ahead of time and check-in with the president and treasurer to find out how the committee will access all of the necessary materials and should obtain any needed passwords. The organizer will ensure that each member of the committee has a copy of the financial review form and will make committee assignments ahead of time if the work is being done in an online meeting.
Q: Can we do our review in a Zoom or Teams meeting?
A: Yes. WSPTA has a blog post and a great class about virtual financial reviews that you may want to watch. Reviews may be done in an online environment with careful planning and organization. Documents may be uploaded to a shared drive and a committee member may be given temporary access. Hard copy documents may be delivered to another committee member, and another may record findings. This type of review can be highly successful if the committee is thoughtful about accessing documents in advance and assigning work across the committee. The president should be careful about sharing and changing any passwords used to limit outside access to accounts.
Q: What if the committee has questions? Shouldn’t the treasurer be there to help?
A: The treasurer should organize the materials so that the committee can easily find what they need. This will minimize questions. However, the committee may still have questions for the treasurer. The treasurer can be accessible to the committee, either in-person or by phone or video conference, but they should not be part of the review.
Q: What is a “finding?”
A: A “finding” is a discovery. When the financial review committee discovers something that is not in alignment with the financial review checklist, they will make a note of that.
Q: What happens with findings? Do they have to be presented to members?
A: The financial review is presented to the board of directors, who consider each finding and suggestion from the committee. Not everything in a PTA’s financial practices is likely to line up perfectly with the best practices on the financial review checklist. It is possible for the board to consider the finding and decide that their preferred practice may differ slightly from what is recommended. Or the board may consider the finding and decide to update their practice. Once the board has reviewed the findings and decided on any action to be taken because of the financial review, the board reports to members. The financial review checklist itself should not be shared, and it is not necessary to share every finding and suggestion of the committee. Instead, a report would state that a financial review was done on a specific date by named committee members. It shares generally the state of the association’s financial management and any changes that will be made to improve practices. If there is difficult information that must be shared with members, such as a finding of missing money, consult your region director for support.