How Often Should a Nonprofit Audit Committee Meet?
By Eugene Fram
Under “usual” conditions, the audit committee should meet at least twice a year, once just before the annual audit to understand how the audit is going to be conducted and then after the auditor’s management letter has been received. If other major issues arise, such as a major change in the organizations pension plan, more meetings will be required with outside counsel , experts in the area being discussed.
Part of each meeting with the external auditors is held in executive session. This is one of the few times that management is excluded from a meeting. Some boards, in recent years, however, devote some part of most meetings to an executive session.
Management understands that this procedure does not reflect on the integrity of the management group. In fact, when the audit committee is initially established, this process should be presented as standard procedure because it has become more common for both business and nonprofit boards. This has resulted from various for-profit and nonprofit board debacles that were well publicized in the past decade.
Typical questions asked of the external auditors during the executive session after the management letter has be received are:
- Did you notice any unusual transactions, unusual travel/entertainment expenses, or other large payments?
- Was management cooperative during the audit?
- Is there anything else you want to tell us in the absence of management?
Source: Policy vs. Paper Clips, Third Edition, 2011, pp.76-77
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I work for a non profit. Currently, the policy is to switch external auditors every 6 years. Our organization would like to avoid doing so – believing it is more beneficial to stay with the same external auditor indefinitely.
Can you please point me to any evidence that would help promote the idea of retaining the same auditing organization for an indefinite amount of time?
Thanks for your thoughts.
Not in this day and age. It would be folly for a board to change the policy.