In the world of nonprofit accounting, only one thing remains constant: Change. FASB’s new rules are in effect in December 2017. Are you ready?
The Financial Services Accounting Board (FASB) issued new rules for nonprofits in August 2016. Since then, we’ve covered some of the clarifying questions nonprofits asked FASB about various aspects of the rules. This is the first major change to the guidelines for accounting for nonprofits since 1993 and thus a substantial amount of change is going into effect. Let’s take a look at the new rules and how they may impact your nonprofit organization.
Overview of the New FASB Rules
The new guidelines aim at making financial statements easier to read for all stakeholders. Stakeholders such as directors, the public, donors and granting institutions need clarity and consistency when reviewing nonprofit financial statements.
Nonprofit financial statements are more than debits and credits. To the keen eye, they provide a story of how your organization spends its time and money. Providing better clarity and consistency is critical because understanding the financial statements provides insight to decision-makers about which organizations they choose to support.
Four Major Areas of Impact
There are four major areas of impact to nonprofit financial statements. The goals of the changes are to improve:
- Simplicity and clarity: As previously stated, FASB hopes that the new guidelines will improve both the simplicity and clarity of nonprofit financial statements. Some level of consistency in the presentation of information is also desirable. The new rules simplify the treatment of net assets. The emphasis is on donor-imposed restrictions. The goal is to classify temporarily restricted versus permanently restricted funds. The current three classifications of net assets are replaced by two categories, restricted and unrestricted. Although the temporarily unrestricted category is eliminated, nonprofits can still provide clarification in the notes section and in other areas of their financial reports.
- Clarity on cash and available assets: Nonprofits are now required to reveal any limitations on the use of liquid assets. Quantitative and qualitative information must now be provided to demonstrate how an organization manages liquid assets. It’s a good idea to speak with your nonprofit auditing firm or CPA when preparing financial statements to adhere to this new guideline. Keep in mind that quantitative information is determined by the nature and limit imposed upon it.
- Consistency reporting investment expenses and returns: Income must be reported net of related internal and external expenses. Currently, this is optional.
- Communication about Statement of Cash Flows and Related Presentation Options: Nonprofits may continue to present operating cash flows using direct or indirect reporting methods at their discretion.
Now is the time to prepare your accounting setup for the new year. If you haven’t adjusted your plans for reporting, this is the time to do so. We urge you to seek professional assistance with your audits or end of year reporting if you aren’t sure how to adhere to the FASB guidelines. It’s important for the financial health of your organization to report its funds and expenses in a clear, concise manner so that donors, the public, granting organizations and directors can understand the good work that you do and how their money is spent.
About Welter Consulting
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.