When you are starting out as a new PTA officer or committee chair, one of the first things you look at is the committee report from the person who occupied your post last year. Unfortunately, many incoming committee chairs find that their predecessors did not write the report. So they have to start from scratch. Don’t let your successors suffer the same fate! Get your year-end reports done, and make sure to follow these 12 helpful tips on what to include in your report.

Here’s what your reports should include:

1. Names for committee chair and all committee members. At the minimum, your year-end report should include names of everybody on the committee: chairperson and all the members. You might also include contact information for the committee chairs, in case your successor has questions about the committee. For an officer report, the name and contact information for the officer is vital.

2. Job responsibilities of each committee member or officer. This will help the incoming person determine what his or her own responsibilities are, and what kind of help he or she might need from others. Don’t assume that the new person knows what the job entails – spell it out.

3. Function or purpose of the committee or office. This is a very useful piece of information that helps the incoming leader understand the overall mission of the committee. Sometimes it is difficult to know what a committee is really all about just by looking at the committee’s name. Making the committee’s purpose explicit takes out all the guesswork.

4. Budget amount allocated. Learning what your spending limits are will help tremendously when planning for next year’s events. If the committee/office is a revenue generating one, then it would be helpful to learn if the goal was met or exceeded, and by how much. Another helpful piece of information would be to look at the last 5 years of this committee’s/office’s fundraising goals to see how successful the efforts have been.

5. Major task list. Listing the major tasks associated with this committee or office will allow the new person to get a jumpstart on the year, with the to-do list already created.

6. Contact information. List everyone with whom the committee did business and their email or phone numbers. It would also be helpful to note what each contact was used for, and any financial information associated with this exchange.

7. Receipts, invoices and additional notes. Encourage each chair/officer to scan receipts, invoices and notes and attach them to the year-end report. Original receipts should be turned over to the Treasurer in accordance with your group’s financial guidelines.

8. Procedure Book. For a committee that is charged with a major event for the group, like a Winter Carnival, Variety Show, Reflections, etc, it would be helpful to develop a procedure book that would outline in great detail the event and the steps taken to organize and carry out the event. This should be updated yearly to note changes, improvements, etc.

9. Recommendations for next year. It is always helpful to learn from others. When an outgoing chair/officer lists some recommendations for next year, it means they were really trying to improve upon things and make notes of what could be enhanced for next year. A critique after each event is always a good idea to learn what went well and what didn’t.

10. Make the year-end report a requirement. Make the year-end reporting a requirement for your PTA or PTO. Send emails, make phone calls, visit their home – do what you need to do to get the report completed. If your committee chairs benefited from great reports last year, remind them about it. If they didn’t have the reports, remind them how painful it was to recreate everything from scratch.

11. Try a reward system. To encourage timely completion of year-end reports, you may want to try some rewards. You can get a local business to donate a prize, and raffle it off. Every chairperson or officer who turns in his or her report within a week of completion of the committee or office is eligible for the raffle. At the very least, give the people who completed their reports on time public recognition for their good work.

12. House all year-end reports in a central location. Oftentimes, year-end reports are housed on one member’s computer, with no backup. If the computer crashes, all the data are lost. Try to keep all of the reports in a centralized location where committee chairs and officers can have easy access. Check out SimplyCircle, an excellent resource for all of your group’s communication and document sharing needs. It houses these important documents in a private and secure “cloud” where any committee chair can access it anytime.