What are the basic financial reports that a nonprofit must prepare?

The basic financial reports of a nonprofit organization include:

  • Statement of financial position (also called a balance sheet): This summarizes the assets, liabilities and net assets of the organization at a specified date. It’s a snapshot of the organization’s financial position on that date.
  • Statement of activity (also called an income and expense statement): This reports the organization’s financial activity over a period of time. It shows income minus expenses, which results in either a profit or a loss.
  • Statement of cash flow: This summarizes the resources that become available to the organization during the reporting period and the uses made of such resources. It’s especially useful in real-time because it reports income that has been received and expenses that have been paid. A statement of projected cash flow is helpful for the board and organization to be able to anticipate any shortfalls for planning purposes.
  • Statement of functional expenses: Reports all expenses as related either to program services or to supporting services. Expenses under program services are shown divided among the various programs. Expenses under supporting services are generally divided between (1) management and general expenses and (2) fundraising expenses.

While these reports are extremely important in terms of understanding your organization’s financial health and conveying that information to your board, you’ll also find that these types of reports will often be required by funders when applying for grants.

Other reports, depending on your organization’s needs, are: government information returns, payroll tax returns, reports to funders, management reports, budget monitoring reports, and analysis of statements and investment reports.

A detailed list of financial reports for nonprofits, and related definitions can be found in Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Organizations, by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (www.fasb.org).

There are also a few accounting basics you should keep in mind. A qualified bookkeeper can help you to ensure reports are prepared properly and in a timely manner. He or she can also help to reconcile bank statements on a monthly basis, which is critical, and lend support and key information during budget development.

Finance FAQ

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