Vicky Browning: Shining a light on the great work charities do

Charity communications professionals must work closely with finance departments to highlight annual reports and accounts, writes our columnist

Vicky Browning
Vicky Browning

I wonder how many charity communications people look in any detail at their annual accounts? I suspect they focus their time and energy on the narrative of the previous year – the words, stories and pictures – leaving the facts and figures to the accountants.

However, the facts and figures part of the report and accounts is under scrutiny as never before. A number of the critical media stories about charities in the past year have focused on chief executives' salaries, fundraising ratios, salary bills and more. At present these figures are buried in the detail of the accounts, and the pressure is for accounts to be even more detailed, with increased information about trustee accountability and fundraising activities.

The communications professionals in a charity need to be the eyes and ears of donors, volunteers and other stakeholders on these issues. They need to make sure their accounts let the great work of their charity shine through. The Sorp (the sector-driven recommendations for accounting and reporting) is being reviewed to see how it can be improved. This is the opportunity for all teams in the charity sector to have their say on how annual reports and accounts should look.

CharityComms is supporting the idea of a "key facts" section that would show the key information about a charity's income, expenditure and costs in a couple of pages. It would help the public to see the big picture of a charity, without reading 50 or 60 pages.

Don't leave communicating about your charity to the accountants: have your say on the Sorp consultation.

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