bookkeeping for nonprofits

Proper financial records for a nonprofit organization is of paramount importance, whether you have an accountant for your nonprofit or not. Not only is it essential for determining how effective your organization has been and to budget projects, but it is crucial for overall transparency. Get our FREE guide to nonprofit financial reports, featuring illustrations, annotations, and insights to help you better understand your organization’s finances.

bookkeeping for nonprofits

It gives a view of a nonprofit’s prosperity over a period of time, expressing revenue minus expenses and losses. Since nonprofit organizations don’t center on profit but on a nonprofit mission, they have different bookkeeping practices. While the basic bookkeeping principles may apply in both cases, certain seemingly small details make significant differences in how a nonprofit’s finances are done. As mentioned, nonprofit organizations have tax-exempt status, meaning they don’t have to pay federal taxes to the IRS under Section 501. This section regulates the tax status of charities, religious organizations, and nonprofits. The statement of financial position represents the nonprofit version of the balance sheet.

Not-For-Profit Financial Statements

The option you go for should also enable you to do fund accounting (i.e., use different accounts for different purposes). Nonprofits have strict rules regarding funding sources and how they should be spent. For example, large organizations like universities often have dozens, if not hundreds, of bank accounts for different purposes like scholarships, tuition, projects, etc. This form is where you report all financial activities to the IRS. It reveals your financial strengths and weaknesses, sources of income, and how you’re spending your funds. This information helps the government determine whether you’re engaging in activities that could cause you to jeopardize your tax-exempt status. Prepare quarterly financial statements for your board of directors.

What’s the Right Nonprofit Accounting Software for Me?

When choosing accounting software, consider the needs of your organization and the experience of the person who will be handling accounting for your organization. Smaller organizations and volunteer-led groups will likely be better off with free or low-cost options that are streamlined, simple, and offer basic accounting functions. If your organization is larger, has hundreds of donors, or accepts a significant amount of online payments, you likely need a more robust program and will need to pay more money for accounting software. Large-scale organizations with thousands of donors will need enterprise-scaled solutions, such as QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit or Blackbaud’s Financial Edge.

To learn more about exactly which taxes your tax-exempt nonprofit might still be on the hook for, consult IRS Publication 557, or better yet, consult with a nonprofit tax specialist. They’ll have experience helping organizations like yours minimize their tax bill and make sure you aren’t breaking any tax code rules. This is essentially the nonprofit accounting version of the balance sheet equation. The solution you decide on should also allow you to do some form of fund accounting. This means instead of piling your money into one big “cash” account, you’ll need to distinguish between and track separate buckets of money. In choosing Supporting Strategies, you also select a financial partner that is capable of scaling with your organization as it grows — a nonprofit bookkeeping partner for the long-term.

Bookkeeping for Nonprofits – 20 CPE Credit Hours

Understanding the key aspects of accounting will help your nonprofit better recognize the financial situation of your own organization. Many brand-new organizations take this approach and simply allow their executive director to take on all financial responsibilities for the organization. However, the problem occurs when it’s bookkeeping for nonprofits time for the organization to grow. Not only will the accounting needs become more complex, but your executives will have other responsibilities and priorities on their minds. In addition, audits provide insight into the various opportunities that your organization has for financial stability and recording improvements.

bookkeeping for nonprofits

At Good Steward Financial, we offer a full suite of online bookkeeping services for nonprofit organizations. We can provide you with the following services on a monthly basis, whichever suits you the best, helping your 501c3 nonprofit organization save time and resources so that you can focus on your goals. Most accounting software will allow you to click a few buttons and automatically create financial statements. You can also make financial statements from your manually entered Excel spreadsheet. However, this takes a lot more time, effort, and accounting knowledge.

How We Work With Nonprofits

Small organizations who are just getting started may be able to get away with a general accounting software solution. However, they’ll likely outgrow it incredibly quickly and start looking for a new software investment. However, we all have a tendency towards optimism in our budgeting. We want to do all sorts of important tasks with the money, so we’ll squeeze our expenses to try to fit everything in. Although your organization is exempt from paying taxes, so long as you’re registered as a 501 organization, that doesn’t mean you can ignore tax season altogether.

Nine nonprofit-specific reports to track donors, manage budgets by program and more. Create an account, and once you’re in, you can organize investments, contributions from owners, grants, and fundraising events. Manage a team of as many volunteers as you like and store unlimited donor profiles, invoices, and receipts. Then, access your data from any device or operating system, enjoying the flexibility of cloud accounting without the headache of monthly and hidden fees. Here are the best accounting software for nonprofits available today. We selected these solutions based on features, pricing, reputation and more.

Buy Quickbooks

They typically use a chart of accounts to organize data in a way that accountants can analyze trends and the IRS can more easily track expenditures, memberships and donations. A vendor or service provider may lend time or resources, helping your nonprofit as an act of charity. This would be an in-kind donation, viewed differently than a cash donation by the IRS. This is another example of an activity that should be differentiated and properly tracked. Depending on the size of your nonprofit organization and the number of transactions, it may be wise to do bank reconciliations once a month.

  • These are general principles accepted by accountants in all sectors.
  • Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues.
  • Before applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS, you need to register your nonprofit status with your state.
  • When bundled with FastFund Accounting, FastFund Fundraising is available for as little as $20 per month, or $42 per month as a standalone product.
  • Determine if you are likely to be able to afford them and if they include the necessary features your nonprofit needs as it grows.
  • Ask your bank about your options regarding not-for-profit accounts.

This is more or less the nonprofit version of a balance sheet used to determine profits in a for-profit company. However, for most organizations, the goal here is to determine what money you have available to fund your cause based on your donation in-flow and your expenses.

In-House vs. Outsourced Accounting

These guidelines are made to showcase the morals and values of your nonprofit. It’s a reminder to your donors, employees, and board of directors that the code of ethics must always be upheld while they’re working.

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Our clients are provided a deeply-discounted subscription to the leading, cloud-based accounting software platform available, Quickbooks Online. You’ll have secure, 24/7 access to your books and records, from anywhere you have a broadband connection. Write and print checks, sync with your bank account, generate reports…it’s all there. No one understands the complexity and nuance of nonprofit bookkeeping quite like the compliance professionals at Foundation Group.