Sunday, January 22, 2006

Financial Reports

We're learning the bare bones of writing a financial report in class. Our assignment: be creative and outline our initiatives, write a letter from the executive director, a progress report, the income and balance sheet, and where the money has gone and what it has accomplished with some direction for the future. Of course this goes along with pictures and quotes and thank yous and recognition of the volunteers and lots of nice words and uplifting promises that seek to achieve further support from corporate sponsors and other contributors. And it has to be professional.

The difficult part about the assignment is that the company doesn't exist. It's entirely fictional. See, our teacher thought it would be neat for her to make up a charity and give us a main premise and then have us make stuff up on the fly. Now, you could conclude that she has a peculiar idea of fun or that she is simply sadistic. I think that it's a combination of both. She likes to watch us dance, but she also likes to give us a warranted challenge. Fair enough. I haven't decided whether we would learn more or not by going through the motions of writing a report for a real company like we will be forced to when we go out into the real world (note: our college's motto is to "link life with learning") but I do struggle with not being able to research and base some of my writing on facts.

There are perks to pretending though too. My favorite part is writing the executive letter. I think it's fun to impersonate some high powered woman who I've never met, and it's like writing a speech, directed at stakeholders of the organization.

Another issue is ethics: in a real scenario, you can get in a big trouble for not reporting accurately, or promising things you cannot deliver. Articles 1 and 12 of the International Association of Business Communicators state that:

"Professional communicators uphold the credibility and dignity of their profession by practicing honest, candid and timely communication and by fostering the free flow of essential information in accord with the public interest."

and

"Professional communicators are honest not only with others but also, and most importantly, with themselves as individuals; for a professional communicator seeks the truth and speaks that truth first to the self." (IABC Code of Ethics)

So, you have to be upbeat, but also honest and not overly promotional about the performance of your organization. For example, this charity is just over a year old, so it's exciting what it has accomplished to date -starting an initiative to support children in financial need where clients can rent out celebrities for the day. These celebrities act as a role model for children in the arts, sciences and sports. There are people like Wayne Gretzky and Mike Myers who I'm making as coaches at hockey camps or adjudicators of drama festivals. I do have to caution my supporter though that administration costs are too high for our budget. This means that unless we can cut the costs of our supplies or our salaries, someone's job is at stake.

This is good practice. It's comforting to know that at this point no one is going to lose their bonus because of me, but it's also good prep for when the financial statements are really due. If the value of shares is going to go down because of some typo, I'm going to have a run at it before thousands of copies are printed and sent out to the pubic. Oops! I meant public.

2 Comments:

Blogger Captain Bee said...

I think my company would be a professional association of hitmen. Think of what that balance sheet would look like.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Queen of Ass said...

My company's the State. We don't CARE what the financial reports are, we're gonna get paid anyway!

1:47 PM  

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