nonprofit statement of activities Accounting, Non profit, Understanding

unrestricted net assets

This means that nonprofit financial reporting and management also differs from that of the for-profit world. Since non-profit organizations don’t have “owners,” its balance sheet is referred to as a statement of financial position . Like a balance sheet, the SOP shows the organization’s assets and liabilities. The main difference is that in an SOP, what is left after you subtract the liabilities from the assets is called the net assets. Net assets represent the non-profit’s net worth and are divided into three categories – unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted. Nonprofit financial statements, the central role of the Statement of Activities is to provide transparency and accountability to your donors and board.

accounting principles

Every organization that deals with money inflow and outflow must have financial records that account for these activities to have a clear view of their financial position. For nonprofits, the financial statements show a snapshot of the organization’s financial health. In other words, the financial statements help nonprofits measure their assets and liability to know whether the organization is growing. The Statement of Functional Expenses is a detailed breakout of the expenses of the organization over a period of time, reporting the expenses by their nature and by their function. “Nature” means natural accounts; salaries, rent, and contract services are some examples. “Function” shows whether the expense is related to the program services of the organization or a supporting service.

Measure the health of your nonprofit.

Depending on the timing, length of period, and size of a grant, expenses can easily exceed revenues in a period and beyond. In the example above, $750,000 will show up on the current financials inflating revenue since the expenses attributed to the grant won’t be disclosed until future years. When the expenses are incurred, the organization may very well show a loss for the next three years. For the Statement of Functional Expenses , the total expenses will equal the same amount reported on the Statement of Activities.

It’s very important for administrators to understand how financial reports are prepared and what reports are required. Additionally, there are different requirements surrounding reporting for non-profit financial statements. Here is a useful overview of common financial statements and how they are prepared. As one of the four major nonprofit financial statements, it measures how a nonprofit manages its financial resources.

  • Get our FREE GUIDE to nonprofit financial reports, featuring illustrations, annotations, and insights to help you better understand your organization’s finances.
  • A variety of financial reports and statements are used to report that position.
  • By analyzing your nonprofit’s statement of activities, your organization can determine if the expenditures currently allocated for each of your programs are sustainable for the long run.

This allocation method is only effective for nonprofits with a small number of employees, often that does not exceed more than a thousand employees. For example, I have a simple nonprofit audit that derives it’s program revenue from membership dues only. Certain expenses are attributable to more than one program or supporting function.

By understanding its contents, you’ll be better positioned to sustain your organization in the long term. This statement is important for nonprofits because it helps to determine where changes can be made to fund necessary projects. The statement of activities is also important for nonprofits because it can help companies plan their resources and track their progress.

Fixing the Inability to Manage Data in Human Service Organizations

Shows funds with donor-placed restrictions on how or when you can spend the money. You can include all restricted funds together or segment them by donation type. If you use cash-based accounting, you’ll only record cash deposited into your bank during the reporting period. All of the vital accounting statements that you pull together to draw conclusions from are pulled from your nonprofit chart of accounts. Every nonprofit’s statement of activities will look a little bit different.

A CPA since 1998, Doug Whitescarver is the Client CFO at Lumix CPAs and Advisors with over 20 years of experience in payroll accounting and management. Doug has extensive tax experience and previously served as an audit manager. 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. Legalese – Editorial (op/ed) commentary is the author’s personal opinions only, and not necessarily those of other Nonprofit Information columnists or this publication.

A Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Financial Statements and Reports

The Financial Accounting Standards Board requires that all nonprofit businesses report their expenses based on both nature and function. In other words, nonprofit organizations must provide an analysis of how their resources were spent and for what purpose. When most people think about nonprofit organizations, they do not think about the accounting needs and financial reports needed to track the spending, earnings, and economic trends of the corporation.

Instead of measuring income, it focuses on providing detailed information about how the nonprofit uses its funding to advance the organization’s mission. Out of the four most common financial statements in a nonprofit, the Statement of Activities, also known as the Profit & Loss (P&L), is the broadest. The P&L covers all the organization’s programmatic, fundraising, and administrative expenses incurred during the period. The statement also reports all the revenue generated during the period, regardless of the source. Unlike the income statement, the statement of activities normally has three columns for each reporting period, as you will see below. This is because it must report the changes in net assets with donor restrictions and net assets without donor restrictions separately.

Fundraising efforts are the major source of funding for a non-profit’s programs. And donors want to know how much of their contribution is being used towards programs. Perhaps the most important bucket for a non-profit is the cost of programs.

Net assets with restrictions are those restricted by a donor for a specified purpose, or for use over a specified time. To obtain an accurate picture of a non-profit’s performance, it is best to review the unrestricted revenue and expenses in the statement of activity rather than the overall net income or change in net assets. The ending unrestricted net assets amount is the “surplus” they have to cover administrative and other operational needs when there is a shortfall.


Revenue is not recognized when it is actually earned as is the case with for-profit entities. There may be some deferred revenue grants or contracts, but most grants are restricted money that will be used for a program that could run for a couple of years. This looks great for the income statement, but does not give a true picture of the operations of the organization as gross and net income will be inflated. The Statement of Activities , summarizes the organizations revenues, expenses, gains and losses over a period of time. It shows revenues minus expenses, resulting in the change in net assets for the period.

How to Read a Nonprofit Statement of Activities

This statement will detail the expenses incurred during the reporting period and allocate it by program services and support services. Best practice, although not required, is to break-out the program service costs by the organization’s various programs and list the expense categories from highest to lowest. Another financial statement produced by nonprofit organizations is the Statement of Cash Flows, which is produced following the same procedures used by for-profit companies.

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The first thing you’ll want to look at when reading a nonprofit statement of activities is the net income. This will give you an idea of whether or not the organization is bringing in more money than it’s spending. The P&L is important because it provides a high-level overview of how much money the nonprofit is bringing in and where it is being spent. This information can be used to make decisions about where to allocate resources and how to improve the organization’s financial health.

These can be funds from a grant received to operate a specific program or project or individual contributions given with the intent of supporting a particular program or campaign. Determine how to address a nonprofit organization’s noncash investing and financing activities and other presentation items for the statement of cash flows. All nonprofit organizations in the US are now required to report their expenses based on their functional classification and by the natural classification, as per Financial Accounting Standards Board guidelines. If you are new to nonprofit accounting, your first step is to understand the basic principles and needs of statements of functional expenses. This includes understanding how to allocate functional expenses into classifications to build a functional expense report. Alternatively, provide the measure of operations on the face of the financial statements by including lines such as operating revenues and operating expenses in the statement of activities.

But also an excellent tool for understanding just how healthy your business is. This is the equivalent of a balance sheet and provides an overview of your nonprofit organization’s financial state. Assets may include cash, equipment, grants receivable, and any cash equivalent. A nonprofit’s assets may include grants receivable, promises to give, restricted cash, and beneficial interests to name a few.

  • In this example, FAN has recorded the three-year, $60,000 grant in the first year, as required.
  • The process that describes the planning and documentation of financial activities is nonprofit accounting.
  • By understanding how to read and understand this key nonprofit financial report, you can better allocate your resources and improve your organization’s overall performance.
  • Have you ever looked at your personal finance history and thought to yourself, “How did I end up spending that much money?

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant’s stance on this topic. Any organization with more than $500,000 in total assets or more than $200,000 in gross receipts must file the Standard Form 990. Get a live overview of a nonprofit company’s operations and financial status. Nonprofit accounting uses similar statements, although there are many subtle differences that are important to bear in mind. But also, things like programmatic expenses, or the cost of holding events should be included. These payments may have been made with cash, credit, or even through in-kind donations.

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