We are delighted to share the findings from the 2013 PwC Transparency Awards. This report outlines the trends in not-for-profit reporting identified throughout the review of all nominated organisations.
General findings during the review of the 6 assessment sections have also been released on this site. We have provided "best in class" examples for each section. We would like to recognise these organisations for their commitment to transparent reporting and thank them for sharing these examples.
The 2013 Jury findings were presented by by Ms Paula Benson, General Manager, Corporate Responsibility, National Australia Bank.
In this section we determined the extent to which you explain the environment in which your organisation operates. Our assessment required us to consider the 'story' painted in the Annual Report and supporting information, including your history and relevance in the current environment.
The presentation of the mission, vision and values of an organisation in a clear and effective manner is fundamental to the organisation to educate stakeholders, create awareness and to encourage further support and donations.
The 'who we are' and 'what we do' was clear and concise. The passion and commitment of organisations to strive to achieve their mission was evident and was often supported by personal reflections and striking images.
We assessed the extent to which the organisation explains both its interactions with its stakeholders, and how it obtains, manages and deploys the resources necessary to execute its strategy. We expect to see clear communication of how stakeholder relationships are managed, how employees and volunteers are recruited, trained, rewarded, retained and recognised, and how the organisation is funded.
This section formed a large part of our assessment process and covered stakeholder communications as a whole as well as reporting of information about specific groups such as employees, volunteers and the business community.
This continues to be the area where opportunity lies for most organisations to improve the transparency of their reporting.
Reporting on the breadth of stakeholder relationships was reasonably comprehensive, but would be further improved by the representation of all stakeholder groups in one central location or diagram. In addition, few organisations disclosed the process of communicating with their stakeholders, the frequency of the communication and the information provided.
The extent of disclosure of corporate/major donors ranged from those who provided photographs, stories and narrative covering specific projects to those who just disclosed a list of corporate sponsors or logos. Those that scored well provided extra detail of the projects involved and the mutual benefits achieved for both parties.
Reporting on employees is an area where greater disclosure could be provided. Things to consider when reporting on employees include:
Disclosure of the source of funds, fundraising and funding targets was often brief, particularly in those organisations that relied heavily on state or government funding. Insight into this funding was often absent, leaving users questioning how funding was secured, accountability for the use of the funds and an assessment of the ability to maintain the current levels of funding in the future. Few organisations addressed or disclosed their approach to fundraising, including how it is evolving to adapt to changes in circumstances – if it was disclosed it was limited to a comment about the GFC or natural disasters affecting the level of donations.
Many organisations devoted specific sections of their annual reports to cover all aspects of investments including the management oversight and skills in the organisation to manage investment risks and performance – this was strength area of reporting.
It is also important to note that many organisations reported levels of funding over a period of years, but then did not fully explain significant movements in the level of funding, particularly where it had fallen in any year.
In this section we assess the extent to which the organisation explains the strategy and structures that enable it to operate. The organisation should clearly communicate how its strategy and structures enable it to sustain and grow its activities. In addition, management should support its strategy with targets and relevant milestones.
Consistently, organisations reported on their mission, vision and purpose effectively throughout the varied publications made available with a number of organisations presenting detailed and comprehensive strategic plans or priority statements as separate publications. However tracking of progress against plans was often not disclosed and few organisations disclosed targets or budgets for both the short and longer term. Many referred to the existence of internal KPIs as part of their submission but there was no detail provided publicly about them.
Of particular interest to stakeholders is where the organisation may have failed to meet a particular goal, the resulting outcome of this and future plans to address this. Organisations often appeared reluctant to report the negative aspects where goals had not been achieved or financial performance was not as strong as prior years and also the impact of this on future plans. Honest self-assessment and disclosure of performance and plans to address underperformance and/or ongoing challenges generally enhances trust in the organisation.
Inextricably linked to strategy and mission is how well an organisation's underlying organisational and governance structures, systems, processes and risk management frameworks are aligned thereto.
Reporting by NFPs should not just focus on financial measures but on outputs, outcomes and impacts. We measured the extent to which reporting contained information on how the organisation has delivered outputs, outcomes and impacts in line with the expectations of its stakeholders. Performance-based information demonstrates how well an organisation has understood the community need for its services, executed its strategy, and managed its resources and relationships.
Overall, the accounts of performance were insightful and enjoyable to read, with organisations utilising graphs, personal reflections, and photographs to provide evidence of their commitment to achieve their mission.
Of importance to stakeholders is the ability of the organisation to continue to operate effectively over the long term. It is pleasing to note increased disclosure in this area, and we encourage organisations to continue to provide disclosure of both financial and non-financial trends as well as how learnings have been applied over time to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
Few organisations clearly outlined the specific challenges faced in the year and those that did, often did not then proceed to identify what they had done to try and address the impact of them. Reporting of such indicates to stakeholders the strong stewardship in organisations.
Most organisations clearly disclosed key financial ratios; however, supporting narrative and comparatives year on year or against targets would significantly enhance the disclosure in this area of reporting and provide stakeholders with a greater understanding of performance. Many organisations referred to KPIs being established internally but these were not made publicly available.
We assessed the extent of financial information provided to stakeholders and specific financial disclosures. As a pre-requisite for self-nomination included audited accounts, all organisations provided information such as sources of revenue, revenue recognition policies and a discussion and analysis of the factors affecting the organisation's financial performance.
Organisations generally performed well in this area of reporting clearly outlining the following in addition to a general overview or CEO's report and the minimum statutory financial disclosure requirements:
It is worth noting the view widely held that the CEO/Chairman's’ report are often the most read part of an annual report. It is pleasing to see that most organisations paint a sound picture of their year's performance in these important summaries.
Organisations should articulate their policy for management and protection of funds raised surplus to their stated or operational requirements. There needs to be clear accountability for the treatment of surplus funds and relevant, insightful disclosures in the financial statements regarding accounting for reserves and restricted assets.
Partner, Social Impact, PwC Australia
Tel: +61 417 021 993