Lecture 6. Reporting project finances
The theory is that if you have set up all the processes well as described in the earlier sections of this e-learning course then reporting on finances should be easy!

However lets be thorough and run through a checklist of the things you’ll need so that you can report on project finances effectively, accurately and in a timely fashion

Tracking income

  • information from you EPOS system or ticketing system which shows the value of sales made

  • letters confirming grants you are receiving for this project and the dates on which payment is expected to be made

  • letters confirming sponsorship and details as to how and when these are paid to the organisation

  • methods which confirm the value and receipt of donations

  • summary sheet ie the cashflow sheet updated as often as needed given the stage of project you are in (eg planning vs delivery)

Providing an up to date summary of costs

  • paper or email receipts for all costs incurred which relate to the project. If activity is being billed on a single invoice which covers multiple projects then detail is required indicating which lines are being attributed to the project you are managing

  • audit trail which indicates sign-off of expenses incurred by an appropriate manager

  • paper trail agreeing how any indirect costs are billed to the project and how these are calculated, checked and signed off

Reporting on surprises and unexpected income/costs

  • demonstration of process by which the cost was agreed, indication of why it was required and allocation against contingency budget

Keeping a paper trail ready for audit

  • files in date order and split into key income and cost areas with paper copies/print outs of all invoices, receipts, payment confirmatiions and contracts

  • if funders specify the template to be used ensure that you are indeed using it!

So now you can:

  • maintain an accurate paper trail of the finances of your project

  • see just how much of your planned income has been brought in

  • issue receipts or confirmations of agreeing to expenditure

  • maintain the paperwork for the purposes of being audited by a funder

This course has been a first introduction to project budgeting. Whilst it won’t make you an expert over night it does give you an idea of the factors you’ll need to consider.

In reality if you have not managed a project budget before you will probably start out by managing smaller projects with not too much risk and not too many opportunities for it all to go badly wrong. Either that or you will work on larger projects but report to someone with more experience than you in managing finances.

This experience will prepare you for working on larger more complicated projects.

As someone who has been preparing budgets for a couple of decades I find that there are areas where I have lots of experience and I know what it takes to get a job done but equally there are new things that I’m planning budgets for for the first time. When doing something new I’ll be expecting to fail to plan for a few things and will need a bit more of a contingency budget. Sometimes this is about ensuring that there is ‘good will’ from client and partners so that when the unexpected happens everyone contributes time and resources to fix it. This is the ideal. Life doesn’t always offer you the ideal so you should plan for the worst case as well as the best case!

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