Improving the Trustees' Annual Report disclosures

In our July Insights post, we outlined the importance of discharging accountability through the Trustees’ Annual Report – and how this could ensure that charities continue to transparently share information with their stakeholders. Sections 1.1 and 1.2 of the Trustees Annual Report set out guidelines for ensuring that the quality of disclosures made in the TAR is of a good standard. In this month’s post, we outline five points for charities to consider, that will ensure good reporting practices.

Following best practice will improve the quality and clarity of disclosures made.

  1. The Trustees Annual Report should provide an essential link between a charity’s legal purposes and the charity’s aims and objectives and the activities it undertakes to achieve them.

  2. It should focus on information relevant to the charity’s stakeholders and tell the charity’s story in a balanced manner, acknowledging both significant successes and failures.

  3. Trustees may present the contents of their report in any order and under any headings that they choose.

  4. Good reporting provides a context within which to interpret the accounts and links the activities and achievements reported with the sources of income used to finance them and the expenditure incurred on those activities.

  5. A charity’s accounts focus on its financial position and financial performance. In isolation this information does not give the user a rounded overview of what has been achieved from the charity’s activities and the resources used in their delivery. The report and accounts taken together should provide a picture of what the charity has done (its outputs) or achieved (its outcomes), or what difference it has made (its impact).

Viewing the preparation of the Trustees’ Annual Report as more than a check-box-exercise completed at the year end, will ensure that information presented to stakeholders is of a higher quality. This will also ensure that stakeholders, including communities and service users, understand the charities performance, achievements and plans for the future.