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5 financial audit tips for nonprofit CFOs

Financial audits are an important and stressful time for any finance leader, even when you’ve gone through a number in the past. However, there are simple steps you can take to streamline your audit and make the task easier for your auditor.

  1. Be prepared and proactive

Preparing for an audit can seem overwhelming, but staying ahead of your auditor’s needs is key. One of the simplest ways to improve your audit experience is to proactively send your auditor information and access before they are onsite. By giving them information ahead of time, they can clarify what they want more detail on so you can further prepare. That way you don’t need to be clairvoyant to figure out which documents your auditor will want. Being proactive also means less time wasted when they’re onsite, so your audit can happen efficiently.

  1. Give the auditor sufficient access

For almost every nonprofit, the anxiety felt during a financial audit is misplaced. You have nothing to hide so the more information and access you give your auditor, the more comfortable they will feel and the faster they’ll be able to do their job. Offering broad access has multiple advantages. It reduces the workload on your team, who have their own jobs to do and don’t need to be running after documents for the auditor. It will also put the auditor at ease, and allow them to work more efficiently.

With a solution like Sparkrock Finance and Procurement, you can easily add a view-only user, so your auditor can sign in from anywhere to view purchase invoices, orders, approvals, and so on.

  1. Build a relationship with your auditor

It’s a job title that seems to strike fear into the heart of many financial professionals, but your auditor isn’t the bogeyman. Building rapport with them will make both of you more comfortable, and ease the entire process.

  1. Ask questions

Don’t hesitate to ask questions during and outside the audit process.

During the audit, remember that the auditor is not infallible. Ask questions to clarify their requests, and to make sure you understand their critiques. If your understanding of a requirement is different from theirs, probe the issue to ensure both parties are on the same page.

Outside of the audit process, see your auditor as a resource you can call on to guide decisions and processes. You can call and ask them something specific: “I’m buying this for my agency and I’m not sure how to process it properly. What would you advise?” There will be a cost associated with their time, but you can document their answer and prevent issues instead of having to react to them.

  1. Make sure you have the right resources

Finally, aim to schedule your audit for a time when you’re not already busy such as around year-end or during government reporting. Having the time and resources to dedicate to your audit will simplify the process and make it less stressful.

If possible, considering aligning with summer when you can have an intern on hand to support you by following up on auditor requests. The extra help will ease your workload, and the intern can learn a lot by going through the audit process so early in their career.

Prepare, be open and transparent with your auditor, build rapport, ask the right questions, and make sure you have the resources you need. With these five steps, you’ll find your next audit a smoother and less stressful experience.

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