by Maria Lahiffe
Hands up everyone who looks forward to your annual audit.
Never forget that auditors actually want the same thing as the rest of us: evidence of an organization whose finances are being stewarded responsibly. This evidence will help you, and your funders, rest easy knowing that your mandate is being filled in the most financially efficient way possible. And if there is room for improvement, then you need to know that, in order to make those improvements.
Here are some things you can do to make the process flow more smoothly.
Meet with your auditor in person. This will allow you both to establish some comfort with each other, and avoid boilerplate communication. At a minimum, you should have two meetings: one ahead of the audit, and a second debrief meeting afterward, to review the findings and make a plan for the upcoming year. You may also need to meet while the audit is ongoing, if there are any questions.
It is recommended to form an audit committee. This is a task force (temporary) or standing committee (permanent) which is given the authority to provide accountability for the organization’s audit. The board retains responsibility and authority for oversight, but the committee, being smaller, can work more effectively. 
The audit committee can also provide oversight through the year, to make sure that the auditor’s recommendations are implemented throughout the year, and may also serve as an ombudsperson if anyone has concerns about financial mismanagement in the organization.
It is not necessary to form a specific audit committee. In some organizations, this role can be taken on by the executive committee. It is important, however, that this function be filled.
Here are some suggested questions to ask ahead of your audit: 
To learn more about how to prepare for a successful audit, come to our upcoming workshop.
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