Nonprofit Accounting

financial statements for nonprofits

Unlike for-profits, nonprofits are required not to distribute their net earnings to the leaders at the organization. Luckily, here at Jitasa, we don’t think nonprofit accounting is tedious at all! We’ve loved helping over a thousand organizations organize and maintain their finances. Due to this love of the craft and experience in the field, we decided to put together this guide to help nonprofits like yours better understand their accounting needs.

We will also go over the rules and guidelines you’ll need to adhere to as a nonprofit. The next few lessons won’t be as practically implemented as the previous few, but they’re still important for your nonprofit’s accounting system. In the meantime, if you’d like a more in-depth guide on nonprofit accounting, check out our Ultimate Guide To Nonprofit Accounting. This Guide is specifically designed to address the AICPA Audit and Accounting Guide, Not-for-Profit Entities, as well as FASB guidance affecting nonprofit organizations. The financial health of your nonprofit organization is extremely important. Working with a lawyer who understands the laws surrounding 501 is crucial to making nonprofit status benefit your charity. Speak to a business and commercial law attorney in your area today and make sure your nonprofit has the best chance at success.

Even if your nonprofit consists of only two employees, there should still be a “checks and balances” system in place. No matter how big or small nonprofits are, internal controls are essential for effective nonprofit accounting.


Nonprofit annual reports play an important role as we head into the end of the fiscal year or the onset ofgiving season. Although they are not an IRS requirement, compelling annual reports can sway potential donors and show current donors how their money is helping your organization to make an impact.

  • This includes filing your nonprofit’s financial statement, as we will discuss below.
  • Nonprofit organizations’ main goal is to serve the community or a cause while the goal of profit-making businesses is to generate wealth for their owners.
  • It really helps to catch any mistakes and prevent inadvertent wrongdoing.
  • Please note that not all of the investments and services mentioned are available in every state.
  • Your nonprofit budget is the planning document used to predict expenses and allocate resources for your organization.

What this means is the money you receive, minus the money you spend, is called your net income . When viewing this report, it will quickly show whether your organization is making more than it’s spending. A charitable donation is a gift of cash or property to a non-profit organization.

Understanding The 4 Essential Nonprofit Financial Statements

An organization will receive a management letter if the auditor has comments for the board or financial management team. The comments are classified as “deficiency,” “serious deficiency,” and “material weakness,” and will give you a sense of the areas in which the organization can improve. All nonprofits with $100K in annual contributions or over $250K in assets are required to file an IRS Form 990.

financial statements for nonprofits

We’ll do one month of your bookkeeping and prepare a set of financial statements for you to keep. This is the part of the tax code that concerns charities, nonprofits, and religious organizations that are exempt from paying federal taxes to the IRS. For the most part, however, cash flow statements for non and for-profits are very similar. Once you’ve got a bookkeeping system in place, you need to start creating financial statements. Looking at these documents can tell you how much money you have, where your money is, and how it got there. Depending on your organization’s financial history and practices, it may be a good idea to consider getting an independent audit.

Unrestricted net assets are any funds your nonprofit has received from donors that have no rules or conditions attached to them, like a pure cash donation. This is essentially the nonprofit accounting version of the balance sheet equation. Most nonprofits elect some kind of treasurer or financial officer to manage all of the organization’s finances. Using a personal bank account and keeping a shoebox full of receipts isn’t going to cut it. In the next lesson, we’ll take a look at how to protect and maintain your accounting system.

Bookkeeping: Nonprofit Financial Statements

The revenues and expenses are also broken down into unrestricted, restricted and temporarily restricted activities based on the fund used for these activities. The net effect of the revenues and expenses are used to describe the change in the net assets of the organization. The following table compares the main financial statements of a nonprofit organization with those of a for-profit corporation. As you move through the course, carefully-crafted tools and activities will guide you in applying what you learn about financial assessment and management to the specifics of your own nonprofit organization. Show donors, boards, and the public what is happening behind the scenes using a dynamic and customizable annual report template that we crafted to help you show your org’s impact.

financial statements for nonprofits

Most governments around the world grant nonprofit organizations a tax-exempt status, which means they don’t have to pay taxes on any incomes. Incomes for nonprofit organizations can be generated in the form of fundraising activities or donations received from the public or specific donors.


Providing detailed information on your statement of functional expenses also helps when it’s time to complete your annual Form 990 which requires expenses to be separated in a similar fashion. Your expense budget will divvy up the expenditures for your organization into different categories . These categories will include but are not limited to fundraising expenses, administrative expenses, and program expenses. Your nonprofit’s budget is the document that individuals at your organization are more likely to be familiar with. This document is created by your leadership or finance team using information from your development team and historic spending habits from your organization. A for-profit company’s balance sheet takes a snapshot of the company’s assets and liabilities .

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Auditors must be given notice of every meeting of the members and are entitled to attend at the corporation’s expense. Corporations must give the auditor access to financial records and any other information the auditor requires to do their job. A charitable corporation must have an audit if its revenue exceeds $250,000 in the previous fiscal year. If the charitable corporation’s revenue was between $25,000 and $250,000, it can pass a resolution to have a review instead of an audit. If the charitable corporation’s revenue was less than $25,000 it may pass a resolution to not have an audit or a review.

What Is The Statement Of Sources And Uses Of Funds?

A nonprofit’s financial information can get quite complicated, but if you understand the basics, you can glean vital information from the financial statements and related disclosures. Many nonprofit board members and employees come from a for-profit, corporate background. Of the four primary statements that nonprofits are required to present, two have titles that differ from their for-profit equivalents, and one is even unique to nonprofits.

The Statement of Financial Position includes assets, liabilities, and net assets. There is no requirement for nonprofits to show current assets or current liabilities so typically those are not identified.

The Avantax family of companies exclusively provide investment products and services through its representatives. Although Avantax Wealth ManagementSM does not provide tax or legal advice, or supervise tax, accounting or legal services, Avantax representatives may offer these services through their independent outside business.

Typically this occurs when one nonprofit organization is listed as the sole corporate member of the other organization. Indirect interest can exist when the nonprofit organization has a majority voting interest in the other organization. An example of this would when the board of the nonprofit organization is also the same board as the other organization with the ability to direct management.

Members of Maryland Nonprofits gain access to an online community with an expansive library of resources and customizable templates. Membership with Maryland Nonprofits is designed to help you raise more money, develop your board, build relationships, learn, save on the things you need to run your organization, and amplify your voice in Annapolis. RS Form 990 – This is a very important document and one that the IRS carefully peruses to ensure an organization is conducting itself as required of a designated 501 organization. The public and funders have access to an organization’s Form 990, so its importance as a communication tool can’t be understated. The board should review the organization’s 990 or have a committee review it before it is filed. Before deciding on a service, it’s important to know the differences so that you can make an educated decision that will best suit your nonprofit.

Sometimes the assets you hold have restrictions on them, like not to be used until a certain date, or should be dedicated to a specific purpose. Any asset that you receive with a restriction like this should be categorized as donor restrictions, otherwise, it can be included without donor restrictions. The net assets section is essentially residual assets from current and previous years of operations. For example, cash, investments, fixed assets, prepaid expenses, and accounts receivable all hold value.

Not only will the accounting needs become more complex, but your executives will have other responsibilities and priorities on their minds. In order to make the best financial decisions, nonprofit professionals should understand some accounting best practices. In this section, we’ll cover some best practices that nonprofit accountants can use to better handle their finances. But, when you grasp how to read various accounting documents, it becomes much easier to understand how finances function and move at your organization. In the rest of this article, we’ll cover the basics and best practices that all nonprofit professionals should know about accounting.

If you have set up a chart of accounts and started to record transactions, this is the lesson for you. Just like governmental organizations, nonprofits aren’t in it for the money. They too use fund accounting and offer up financial statements for public consumption each year. Nevertheless, understanding what fund accounting is, and how it works, is the only way to confidently look at the financial publications that governmental and nonprofit organizations publish each year. Nonprofit corporations must submit their financial statements, which include the salaries of directors, officers and key employees to the IRS on Form 990 as mentioned above.

All donations received by XYZ Nonprofit are directed to ABC Nonprofit to assist the unemployed participants with necessities in obtaining a job (i.e. wardrobe, transportation, day care, etc.). In this situation, ABC Nonprofit has an economic interest over XYZ Nonprofit and control, which would mean consolidated financial statements are required. When you are thinking about ways to increase efficiencies, whether reducing cost, reaching a wider audience, or attracting more attention, think about whether going paperless is the right choice for your nonprofit. Many organizations have cut back on paper copies or supplement their print material with online resources. Others opt for a completely paper-free path, releasing their annual report as an infographic, a video, or even a conference call. If you have a Corporate Registry account you can file your Annual Return online by choosing `file your Annual Return or renewal`. You can also file your Financial Statement online by using the `financial statement’ tab, providing the required information and attaching a PDF of the Statements and audit or review .

In this statement, the auditor verifies the accuracy of the financial records based on the information given to him or her. If the membership does not elect a new auditor at the annual meeting, the current auditor remains in that position for the next year. Finally, websites like GuideStar and also make Form 990 information available. The current ratio measures assets that will be cash within a year and liabilities that will have to be paid within a year and can provide an indication of an organization’s future cash flow. A comparison of actual revenue and expense to the approved budget is the most basic way of communicating an organization’s performance against expectations. Given its importance, most nonprofits present this in some form throughout the year. The right nonprofit accounting experts ensure your knowledge of and compliance with nonprofit tax and accounting regulations is up to par, preventing costly mistakes from ever happening.

The level of service an organization needs depends on the needs of the financial statement users (management & board of directors, external agency, etc.). Each service provides a different degree of assurance (or “reliability”), to the users of the financial statements. The four services to consider are preparation, compilation, review, and audit. After your review of a NBO’s financial statements, financial statements for nonprofits it is essential to determine whether you feel that the organization is treating your money prudently. If you find a nonprofit organization with exorbitant operating expenses, don’t give it your money. In the case of government, hold your politicians and governmental employees responsible for their actions. Non-profit corporations need to prepare a Financial Statement for every fiscal year.

Read Pay-What-It-Takes Philanthropy for more on the true cost of nonprofit overhead and how funders can identify ways to “pay what it takes” to truly fund the full cost of programs. Congratulations, you have made it through your first financial statement! The important thing to note with net assets is that all of these items aren’t listed line by line. Net assets considers where this item is coming from, and how it is being used by breaking the assets down into with and without donor restrictions.

While some may be required to get an audit, it can be a smart choice to get one even if it is not mandatory. Audits help you understand the strength of your finances and see where change may be needed.

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