Bookkeeping Basics: What Every Nonprofit Bookkeeper Needs to Know

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Nonprofit Accounting Course for Accountants, Bookkeepers

Ruegg , Lisa M. Bookkeeping Basics No trained bookkeeper on staff?

Nonprofit Bookkeeping Basics -Operations -The Wallace Foundation

No problem. Many nonprofits don't have a trained bookkeeper on staff.


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This crucial function goes to whoever has the time and the willingness to do it. Lack of accounting training or background is not only frustrating for the individual, but also potentially risky for the nonprofit.

All About Financial Management in Nonprofits

Bookkeeping Basics will enable you to successfully meet the basic bookkeeping requirements of your organization. In exchange for the tax-exempt status the Internal Revenue Service grants to qualified nonprofit organizations, the organization agrees to governance by its nonprofit board or voting members. Nonprofit organizations also agree to a high level of financial transparency.


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The IRS tax code under which a nonprofit is granted tax-exempt status affects details of financial record keeping. Both groups publish generally acceptable accounting principles, or GAAP, specifically for nonprofits. For instance, FASB concerns recording and reporting contribution revenue, including donor-restricted contributions, and pledges.

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FASB requires nonprofits to use the listed financial statements: statement of financial position, statement of cash flows, statement of activities and, for some nonprofits, a statement of functional expenses. Nonprofit revenue sources include donations, program fees, sales income, membership dues, investment income and proceeds from fundraising events.

Bookkeeping basics : what every nonprofit bookkeeper needs to know

Nonprofit expenses include rent, salaries, travel, postage, financial services and fundraising expenses. FASB also requires that nonprofits group expenses under management and general, program and fundraising or membership development.


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  4. FASB requires nonprofits to record charitable contributions as unrestricted or as temporarily or permanently restricted. The nonprofit, like the for-profit, is interested in its bottom line. Its directors want to know, for example, how much equity the nonprofit has accumulated or how much its revenue exceeds its expenses. Net assets determine whether the nonprofit's work is sustainable or if there is room for growth.

    The calculation used to determine net assets, which are called profits in for-profit businesses, answers that question.

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