The end of the year always seems to creep up on us. One day you’re pulling together a lunch for teacher and staff appreciation, and the next you’re packing the kids off to summer camp. Whether you’re leaving the treasurer’s position or staying on, the last thing you want to be worrying about at the end of August is closing out your group’s financial records from the prior school year.
Many PTOs and PTAs have a June 30 fiscal year end. With the proper planning and organizing, you can have your final bank statement for the year reconciled on July 1, have your year-end audit done a few days later, and not have to worry about treasurer duties again until August! Here are some of the things you can do in advance to make sure you’re organized.
Start looking for your audit committee early. Many parent groups have an audit committee made up of three people to complete the year-end financial review. Your incoming treasurer could be a perfect candidate—working on the audit will give her some idea of what she has to look forward to next year.
Keep in mind that the people on the audit committee should not include anyone who has check-signing authority for the group or anyone with a relationship that would bias the review process. The people who do the audit do not have to be members of the organization—consider asking former officers. It is usually only a time commitment of a few hours.
Make sure your records are in order for the audit. At a minimum, you need your check register and the backup for all your entries in it. Go through it now and make sure that every check request so far has the appropriate documentation. (Ideally, that means an invoice or receipt.) If there isn’t anything attached to the check register, figure out what you can pull together.
For example, let’s say you wrote a check to the school as a donation to cover field trips. Maybe you didn’t have an invoice for that, but there should have been a letter that went to the school to explain what the money was for; you can use that as documentation. If an officer was supposed to sign off on a check request and you see the signature is missing, go track him down now.
You will also need to prepare a final treasurer’s report that shows the income and expenses for the year, preferably in comparison with the amounts budgeted for the different categories. (PTO Today Finance Manager is easy-to-use web-based software can help you prepare your report.) Here are some of the other things you’ll need that might be overlooked:
Meeting minutes from the past year.
Current bylaws, along with any standing rules or procedures documents that dictate how financial transactions should be handled.
The final audited statement (and filed tax return) from the prior year.
Copy of the bank signature cards in effect for the period under review, showing who was authorized to sign checks and how many signatures needed to be on each check.
Information from the insurance company on requirements for check signatures and signing off on bank statements—usually signed by the officers when they renew the fidelity bond policy each year (or crime coverage if you have insurance through PTO Today). This won’t be applicable if you do not have fidelity bond or crime coverage).
Draft a budget for the next year. Drafting a budget is probably the most helpful thing you can do for the upcoming year. (Sometimes bylaws actually include this in the treasurer’s job description.) A new board may have some different ideas for what they want to do in the upcoming year, so the budget certainly may be changed, but don’t make your successor reinvent the wheel. And even if you’re staying in the job, better to document things while they’re fresh in your mind.
One good method is to set up columns showing the current year budget, the actual year-to-date numbers (they can always be updated with final numbers later), and then the projected numbers for the next year. Then write notes as to why the numbers may be different from what you’re seeing in the current year.
Make sure your IRS return gets done. If your group is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, it’s crucial to file your IRS return each year. It may not impact you now, but the effects of not completing the IRS information return (IRS form 990-N for most parent groups) can be devastating years down the line. If you’re leaving office, work out who is going to do the return. Sometimes this responsibility is specifically listed in the bylaws. There are pros and cons to having the incoming person prepare the return rather than the outgoing person. Just make sure that one of you is going to do it and that it doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly.