financial reporting start-up guide

Modified on Fri, 23 Feb 2024 at 01:26 PM

(Financial Reporting for Commission Staff)


Step 1: Connect with Us to Select Your Budget Template

The financial reporting module comes with a default template. This template has some customizable components. 

Schedule a time with the America Learns support team to share the template with you and determine if anything needs to be customized.

 Note that you’ll want to use the same template for all programs within a given prime code to allow data to be aggregated for all programs in a given code.

Step 2: Enroll Your Programs and Program Staff

While you can technically skip this step, you’ll have a more seamless setup process by first enrolling your programs and staff members at each program who will be entering or viewing financial reports.

  1. For guidance on enrolling programs (subgrantees), click here.

  2. For guidance on enrolling program staff (generically referred to as “reporters”), click here.

Step 3: Enter Your Active Prime Federal Codes

The financial reporting platform will eventually allow you to roll up data across programs by prime federal code (10-digit code).  


Enter your currently active codes by:

  1. On the left, click Financial Reporting.
  2. On the right, click Create and manage prime federal codes.
  3. Enter one code and then click Add.  The code will appear in a table.


To edit codes:

  1. Click a code.
  2. Enter the edits.
  3. Click Update.

To delete a code (available when programs have not been assigned to code):

  1. Click the checkbox next to the code you’d like to delete.
  2. Click the Select action drop-down menu at the top or bottom of the table, and select Delete.

Step 4: Create a New Program Year

Create a new program year by:

  1. On the left, click Financial Reporting.
  2. On the right, click Create and manage program years.
  3. Enter your program year’s name.

    Important: To keep things clear for yourself and future staff at the commission, enter the start and end dates of the program year. You can always edit these dates should life happen.

    Sample name: AmeriCorps: 9/1/21 – 8/31/22

  4. Click Create & Go to Step 2.

Step 5: Enter Details for Each Program

On the next page, please enter the following details:

  1. Start & End Dates
    Select Start and End Dates for the program year.

    Note: These dates might not align with your Program Year. These dates should reflect the dates when the program is active within your Program Year.

  2. Budget Template

    Select the Budget Template you’ll be using. (Choose AmeriCorps Standard or a template you’ve customized with the America Learns support team.)

    The Budget Template can be changed until the first budget is submitted by any program.

  3. MSY Values

    Click View & Customize MSY Values.

    The program year comes with default MSY positions and values per AmeriCorps Agency guidance. You must review these numbers to enroll Fixed grantees.

    Add any new position types and MSY values by entering these items and clicking Add.

    Delete any that are not relevant by clicking Remove.

  4. Grantee Columns on Budgets & Expense Reports 

    Select whether your budgets and expense reports will have columns for Grantee Cash and In-Kind or just Grantee Share Only (Combines Cash & In-Kind).

  5. Budget Variance Rules for Expense Reports

    Use the buttons in this section to set your commission's budget variance rules.

    Option 1: Line Item Expenses May Not Exceed Budgeted Amounts
    Subgrantees will need to submit a budget modification request whenever they need to spend any amount of money beyond the budgeted amount for a given line item.

    Option 2: Budget Variances (Overspending) Can Occur Across the Entire Budget
    Subgrantees can enter expenses beyond what was budgeted up to a specific percentage of the total budget that you'll set.

    Option 3: Budget Variances (Overspending) Can Only Occur on the AmeriCorps Share Side
    Subgrantees can enter expenses beyond what was budgeted up to a specific percentage of the AmeriCorps Share budget that you'll set. 

  6. Instructions on Budgets & Reports

    Use the links here to customize the instructions your reporters will see when submitting each type of expense form. These instructions will appear at the top of each form type:

    Budget Submissions

    Budget Modifications

    Expense Reports

  7. Included Programs

    This is where you’ll add programs to the program year. Be sure you’ve already enrolled programs to your Impact Suite (here’s the guidance).

    Once your programs are enrolled, click Assign Programs.

    In the window that’s displayed, select programs one at a time.

    Once a program submits a budget, the program cannot be removed from the program year.

    You can add new programs at any time by clicking the Edit Assignments link. 
  8. Set Up Programs

    After enrolling programs, click each program’s corresponding Start Setting Up link. You will do this for each program in your Program Year.

    A pop-up window will be displayed in which you’ll be prompted to enter details for the program. These details are divided into five sections:

Start Setting Up Sections

Contact Details
  • Enter the program's address.
Grant Details

  • Grant Period (Required)
    To make setup faster, you can copy Grant Details from another program or program year to this one by selecting the program from the drop-down menu.

    By default, the grant period will be set to the same dates as your program year; however, if the program at issue will only be active for a limited amount of time and will only need to submit expense reports for that time, enter that period here. This way, the program won’t be prompted to submit reports for a period when they’re not active.

  • Project Name (Optional)
    Enter the name of the program’s project.

  • Prime Federal Code (Required)
    Select the program’s code for this program year. The codes in this drop-down menu come from the list of codes you’ve already created.

  • Commission Contract or Grant Number (Optional)
    The contract or grant number your commission assigned to this grant.

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) (Optional)
    The program’s EIN.

  • DUNS Number (Optional)
    The program’s DUNS number.

  • Grant Type (Required)
    Select the grant’s type, and then enter the requested information, all of which is required. The information will be used to help populate specific fields on budgets, reports, and other forms that the platform will generate.

    See this article on definitions of Grant Types and options therein.

Responsible Reporters
  • To make setup faster, you can copy Responsible Reporters from another program year to this one by selecting the program from the drop-down menu.

  • If you’ve already enrolled staff for this program, you’ll see a list of these folks. Use the drop-down menu to select which program staff will have read/write or read-only access to the program’s financial reports. 
Reporting Schedule & Details

  • To make setup faster, you can copy Reporting Schedule & Details from another program or program year to this one by selecting the program from the drop-down menu.

  • Or, set the program’s Expense Report Schedule.
    • To give you ultimate flexibility, you can put each program on a separate expense report schedule.

      For example, if one program is deemed high risk, you can have them submit expense reports every two weeks versus monthly. Likewise, you can put lower-risk programs on an every-other-month schedule. You can change schedules for any one program at any point during the year. When you change schedules, the schedule change will impact only unsubmitted expense reports.

    • Here are the default scheduling options (if you need a custom scheduled created, just let us know):
      • 1st - 15th; 15th - last day of the month
      • Monthly
      • Every-other-month
      • Every three months
  • Next, decide how you will handle Comments for Each Line Item and, if needed, create Custom Instructions
  • Lastly, update Expense Report Attachment Settings.

    • To allow receipts or other attachments on select line items, click Allow attachments on selected line items.

      For each line item, select whether no attachments will be allowed, whether they'll be optional, or whether they'll be required.

      For optional and required attachments, you'll be prompted to customize instructions for that specific line item.

      IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION #1: You can change receipt attachment settings for any program at any time.  So, for example, if a program moves from a higher-risk to a lower-risk status, you can adjust receipt attachment requirements from being required to optional (or having none at all) at any time.

      Note that changes you make instantly impact all unsubmitted and returned expense reports.

      IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION #2: Some programs do not have formal systems for maintaining receipt copies.  Those programs might appreciate being able to upload all of their receipts during the year so they can have everything in one place.  You might want to give programs an option to enable this feature if you don't need it for monitoring purposes.  

    • Next, decide whether you'll prompt the program to attach a copy of their general ledger.
      • To allow for general ledger attachments, click Allow for General Ledger attachments.
      • You'll then be prompted to note whether attachments will be required or optional for the program, and to enter instructions for the attachments.
      • Note that changes you make instantly impact all unsubmitted and returned expense reports.
    • Finally, decide if you would like to Request Additional Attachments.

      You can create an unlimited number of custom additional attachments to assign to the program. Since these attachments are customized for each program, if you have high risk or grant types that require additional documentation, you'll be able to ask for these items here.

      After selecting the checkbox next to Request Additional Attachments, a pop-up window will appear.
      Use the links to Edit or Delete requests.

      To add more requests, click Create Another Attachment Type.
Budget Modification Customizations

  • To make setup faster, you can copy Budget Modification Customizations from another program or program year to this one by selecting the program from the drop-down menu.

  • To finalize your Program Settings, decide if programs will be allowed to reduce the budget for a line item below the amount they have spent or not.

Click Save to complete the Program Settings for this program.

Step 6: Customize Your Automated E-mail Notifications

Follow these steps to update the various automated messages your Impact Suite will send to reporters and commission staff. These alerts will eliminate the need to log into the platform to check whether a document needs to be submitted, has been submitted, and/or has been approved and rejected.

  1. On the left, in your Mission Control, click Communications Portal.

  2. On the right, use the More drop-down menu and select Customize Messaging.

    NOTE: If you don’t see “Customize Messaging”, ask your Impact Suite’s main administrator to update your staff role with the following permission enabled:

    Communications > Manage Automated Announcements Sent to Staff and Reports

    In your Impact Suite, the screen might look like this for your admin (see the third checkbox):

  3. At the bottom of the page, click Financial Reporting.  

    You’ll see a list of more than 10 e-mail alerts that you should review and customize before a program submits its first budget.

    It’s important that you at least consider customizing these messages so that they always feel that they’re coming from your organization – not from us. 

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