A Brief Overview of Nonprofit Accounting

Nonprofit accounting is an important aspect of the organization’s finances. There are several important documents you should learn about, including your income statement of activities. We’ll also cover budgets and donation restrictions. Learn about the different types of financial reports and what to do if you have no experience in the area. To start, read this article for an overview of the basics of what nonprofit accountants handle. Ultimately, you’ll have a clearer picture of the nonprofit’s finances.Nonprofit Accounting

Income Statement

In addition to the balance sheet and cash flow statement, nonprofit organizations must keep track of their assets and liabilities. Assets are the things your nonprofit owns, such as cash, equipment, and supplies, and liabilities are debts. The total amount of assets and liabilities is known as the organization’s net worth. The income statement of nonprofit accounting outlines how much cash an organization has on hand and how much it owes in debts.

The Income Statement of nonprofit accounting is essential to a nonprofit organization’s annual financial statements. This statement quantifies the revenues and expenses for a given period. Moreover, the income and expense report also provides a breakdown of those two categories. In the nonprofit sector, the statement of activities shows the total revenue and expenses for a particular period. If an organization’s total revenue is lower than its funds’ total assets, the nonprofit’s activities have increased, and its assets have decreased.

Statement Of Activities

The statement of activities for nonprofit accounting is a financial report that outlines the organization’s revenue and expenses. It is similar to a company’s Income Statement, except that the nonprofit uses its net assets instead of the owner’s equity. The nonprofit statement of activities is a multi-column format that demonstrates net assets and revenue changes according to the donor’s intent. However, the statement must be prepared using a proper chart of accounts.

The SOA can be split into two levels: the summary level is the SOA for the entire nonprofit, while the program level is the SOA for the individual programs. In addition, professional membership organizations may have program-specific SOAs. This document includes corporate support, donations, grants, and donor-provided items and materials. The latter category may be further subdivided into funds restricted for a specific purpose. Ultimately, a nonprofit must determine which kind of revenue is most beneficial to the organization.


When preparing a budget for nonprofits, consider different revenue sources. For example, a nonprofit that expects $100,000 from individual fundraising might determine that $50,000 will come from major donors and the remaining $20,000 will come from a peer-to-peer campaign and online donation page. A nonprofit expecting to raise $500,000 from direct mail fundraising should allocate $10 percent of its budget to that method. The budget should be linked to specific dollar amounts to avoid overestimating revenue.

The next step is to estimate the costs of each program or activity. Make sure to include administrative and fundraising costs. As a general rule, nearly 80 percent of a nonprofit’s budget comprises personnel costs. Therefore, estimating how many employees are needed to achieve its goals is important. In addition, keep in mind the hidden costs of hiring and training staff. Finally, remember to include the cost of advertising and promotional materials.

Donation Restrictions

A donor may legally restrict the use of a contribution to a nonprofit organization. This restriction is outlined in the gift instrument that establishes the use of donated funds. Letters from individual donors or grantors often include such an instrument. In nonprofit accounting, restricted funds differ from unrestricted funds, which are generally used for the nonprofit’s operations. 

Upon receiving a donation, the nonprofit organization must determine whether the gift is unrestricted, temporarily restricted, or permanently restricted. Temporarily restricted funds may be used for the donor requested, but only for that purpose. Permanently restricted funds cannot be used for other purposes unless the donor authorizes them. If a donor is unsure, it’s best to contact the donor directly. However, the nonprofit can file a complaint with the Attorney General if a donor has a conflict of interest.

Fund Accounting

Fund accounting in nonprofit accounts is tracking and recording the total cost of a charity’s assets. This process can be used for many reasons, including keeping track of the assets owned by an organization. For instance, nonprofits can set up a Fixed Asset Fund to track all their net and physical assets. It can help them understand how their funds are being used. Setting up this type of fund is optional, depending on the organization’s needs and financial situation.

Fund accounting is critical for accountability and preparation for audits and legal proceedings for healthcare nonprofits. It also helps healthcare nonprofits manage income streams and meet their financial goals. In addition to these benefits, fund accounting can assist healthcare organizations in achieving their goals and financial objectives. Fund accounting ensures that these sources of income are used appropriately for their missions. Further, it can provide the transparency that future donors and grantors can use to assess how well they’re performing.