How to Make Sense of Partners’ Audited Accounts 

Course code: FM10
Course Title:
How to Make Sense of Partners’ Audited Accounts
Duration: 1 day
For: Non-finance programme staff  
Fee basis:
Non-residential: fee excludes accommodation


A programme officer’s role often involves assessing their partners’ annual financial statements. The formal audited accounts should give insight to an organisation’s activities and purpose but are often incomprehensible pages, full of numbers and accounting jargon.

This course is designed to help NGO programme staff to:

  • read, analyse and make sense of the annual audited financial statements; and
  • gain confidence to ask questions about the reports.

Who should attend?

This course is designed for non-finance programme managers and project officers of international NGOs who work with implementing partners and whose role includes reviewing partners’ annual financial statements.

This is a companion course to:

  • FM3: Financial Management for Effective Programmes: a Programme Officer’s Survival Course for Programme Managers want o build their skills and confidence in using financial management tools to implement project activities in a cost effective, controlled and accountable way; and
  • FM9: Assessing and Building Partners’ Financial Management Capacity for Programme Managers who implement programmes with local partner NGOs.

Previous financial management experience or training is not a requirement for this course. The ability to work comfortably in the language of the course delivery is essential.

We recommend that you read this course outline carefully to make sure the content is relevant and meets your learning requirements. If you are not sure if this course is for you, please contact us.

Course Content

The final balance of course content will be decided by those attending the course, according to their interests and training needs. See below for a Programme Guide.

The course includes a practical review of financial statements and covers:

  • The accounting basis for the reports
  • The balance sheet, income and expenditure statement, cashflow statement and accompanying notes to the accounts
  • Financial analysis techniques
  • The external audit report and auditor’s opinion
  • The Management Letter and how to use it.

Also see the Programme Guide.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Use a checklist to review a set of partner financial statements to identify key issues and answer questions on the annual accounts
  • Analyse the financial results in the annual financial statements using ratio and trend analysis tools
  • Review the auditor’s Management Letter to identify internal control and procedural weaknesses
  • Explain the differences between accruals and cash based accounting and how this affects the presentation of financial statements
  • Describe the reports that make up the annual financial statements and what they tell us
  • Describe the key terminology used in the financial statements, including the different types of reserves and funds
  • Explain why the balance sheet balances
  • Explain what reserves are and how they can be allocated 
  • Describe the role of the external audit and assess the auditor’s opinion in audited financial statements
  • Appreciate the importance of the financial statements and associated documents as a useful insight to the financial management capacity of partner NGOs.

Training Approach

The Mango training approach is highly practical, participatory and often fun!

We focus on real issues and help participants to use the tools covered, rather than just discuss them.  We work especially hard to de-mystify financial concepts to overcome the fear of finance.

“Mango training really does take the fear out of finance!”

We train in small groups to meet the needs of individual participants and use a variety of learning methods to stimulate interest and meet different learning styles.  Participatory techniques include interactive presentations, practical problem-solving activities, case studies and quizzes.

Courses are supported by extensive materials for participants to take away and apply after the course, including a detailed course manual.  We also offer a free follow-up service by email or phone to all Mango trainees.

How to Book

All courses can be booked online or by completing a booking form and sending it to the training team

Full terms and conditions are also available on our website, as well as the latest calendar, current availability and course fees.

You are also welcome to telephone us with enquiries on +44 (0)1865 423818.

Course Fees

The course fee covers: tuition, all course materials including a course handbook and workbook; complementary Mango pen, ‘jargon ball’ and calculator; lunch and refreshments during the course; and a course certificate.

The course fee does not include the cost of overnight accommodation or travel to and from the training venue.

Programme Guide

 Module Session Topics
Welcome and Overview
  • Introductions, expectations and programme overview
  • Some accounting essentials: Cash versus Accruals Accounting
The main reports
  • What the Income & Expenditure Statement tells you
  • The Balance Sheet explained
  • All about Reserves
Making sense of the figures
  • Review of partners’ financial statements: what to look for and questions to ask
  • Using financial ratios to analyse the reports
The Auditor’s Report
  • External audit: what the auditor looks for
  • Audit reports: what do they tell us?
Other Reports
  • Narrative reports: what to look for
  • The Management Letter: what it tells us and how to use it
Summary and Close
  • Conclusions and key learning
  • A checklist approach
  • Evaluation & certificates