17 Best Practices for Nonprofit Accounting & Bookkeeping

nonprofit accounting

A nonprofit’s mission focuses on activities that benefit society, instead of trying to maximize profit. Nonprofits have a public ownership, which means nobody owns shares of the company or interests in its property. Nonprofit accounting is essential to running a successful nonprofit organization. Jitasa is an outsourced accounting service specifically designed to help nonprofits with their bookkeeping and accounting processes.

  • This information can be used to make adjustments to your budget and ensure that your nonprofit is in good financial health.
  • Essentially, this statement will organize and categorize your expenses and revenue sources.
  • Nonprofits use the same accounting principles to record transactions, account for fixed assets, and manage accounts receivable and accounts payable, as do the for-profits.
  • Your fiscal liability starts when you are awarded the funding and there are a lot of obligations and expectations that come along with that responsibility.
  • Learn four best practices that any organization receiving grants should adhere to and the roles and responsibilities of the various staff and team members.

The statement of activities (also sometimes called the operating statement) is like the nonprofit version of the income statement. Like the income statement, it tells you how “profitable” your NFP was over a given period by showing your revenue, minus your expenses and losses. As the financial stewards of nonprofits, accountants play a vital role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of these organizations. Nonprofits must follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) when preparing their financial statements.

How do I get started with a nonprofit accountant?

You may also need to provide other information, like unrealized gains or losses on investments and non-cash transactions, such as depreciation or amortization expenses. As with any financial statement, ensure that all figures are accurate and up to date before submission. Most importantly, you should adhere to proper disclosure procedures in all financial statements as outlined in GAAP guidelines.

Another difference between nonprofits and for-profits are its financial statements. A for-profit puts together an income statement each quarter, which assesses a company’s financial performance. On the flip side, nonprofit organizations write up a statement of activities that includes revenues, expenses, and net assets, which it gives to its donors and board of directors. The other resource a nonprofit depends on is a quarterly balance sheet listing the owner’s equity. Since nonprofit organizations don’t necessarily operate with an owner or owners, they’ll produce a document showing the organization’s liabilities and assets, known as a statement of financial position.

Accounting Strategies for Donor Management

Nonprofits in the United States who function as public charities must pass the IRS public support test in order to remain classified as a public charity. Failing the test will have serious consequences as it will cause the public charity to be reclassified as a public foundation. Learn how to calculate your nonprofit’s public support in order to properly file your annual tax return. ANAFP works to promote, educate, and foster collaboration for those professionals and to be a resource to the general public on nonprofit accounting and finance matters. Zoho Books is another great option for nonprofits looking to simplify their accounting practices.

While accounting software is not required for all nonprofits, it can be a valuable tool for organizations that have complex financial needs. By understanding these financial statements, nonprofit organizations can make informed decisions about how to best use their resources. Establishing a governance board ensures that the organization follows the rules and regulations. This board must overlook the organization’s activities and ensure that the best practices for nonprofit organizations are followed. Nonprofits use the same accounting principles to record transactions, account for fixed assets, and manage accounts receivable and accounts payable, as do the for-profits.

Importance of Donor Retention

At FinancePal, our pricing and services are tailored to your needs, but there are also many other advantages to using FinancePal for your nonprofit accounting. Bookkeeping entails your day-to-day recording of transactions and maintenance of up-to-date financial information so that you can create accurate financial statements. Handling donor funds is one of the most prominent challenges you’ll face when running a nonprofit. One of the reasons this is the case is because donors have the option to restrict their contributions, meaning they have a say in what they’re used for—and this is where things can get complicated. As with any organization, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to your accounting process is determining whether you’ll use cash or accrual accounting.

  • Finally, the income statement shows funds, which is the accounting method used by nonprofits.
  • On the other hand, nonprofit or fund accounting software offers a more flexible chart of accounts structure that is specifically tailored to nonprofit organizations.
  • But, there are still plenty of financial reporting obligations that need to be on your radar.
  • Restricted net assets are donations that have certain terms and restrictions attached, have special accounting procedures, and must be kept separate from other net assets.
  • Additionally, it is important to have a system in place for tracking pledges and other receivables.
  • Generally, these reports are pulled once per month, reflecting the previous thirteen months.

Overall, accrual accounting is considers superior to cash basis accounting for nonprofit organizations. The statement of financial position provides a more traditional balance sheet format, while the statement of activities emphasizes changes in net assets over time. For those new to accounting software, Intacct provides training options for all accounting knowledge levels as well as phone and email support services. Some key features of Intacct include accounts receivable/payable, activity tracking, asset management, bank reconciliation, compliance management, partnership accounting, and purchasing and receiving. Imagine a nonprofit organization that has a mission with all of the right intentions but doesn’t manage their finances well. Improper planning and ineffective funding would likely cause their programming to collapse.

Working With a Nonprofit Accountant: What to Expect professionals must adhere to specific guidelines when they create reports. The primary guidelines your organization should know about are the GAAP standards. Fund accounting enables nonprofits to allocate their money into different groups or “funds” in order to keep them organized and only spend funds on what they’re designated for.

  • For example, some donors give money every month, and others donate once or give in-kind donations.
  • Ask your bank whether they offer business chequing accounts tailored to nonprofits.
  • In the world of nonprofit work, the term “statement of financial position” is widely used to describe how an organization plans to use its money.
  • Once you’ve got a bookkeeping system and a bank account in place, you need some way of making sure the information in both of those systems lines up.
  • Depending on the size, however, and the available funds, the main operator of the nonprofit may elect to handle that work themselves with the aid of online accounting software.