Posts made in June 2018

FASB White Paper Part 2 Reporting Requirements for Not-for-Profits

FASB White Paper Part 2 Reporting Requirements for Not-for-Profits

As discussed in Part 1, by simplifying the financial statements, and by enhancing disclosures (footnotes), the FASB ASU 2016-14 changes will enable not-for-profit organizations to provide a more accurate and complete financial picture. The distinction between permanent restrictions and temporary restrictions had blurred over time by changes and as a result, had become less useful on the face of financial statements.

By reducing the number of classes of net assets that must be reported on the face of financial statements, especially the statement of activities, it will help reduce complexity, increase understandability, and enable greater use of multi-period comparative financial statements that can provide donors, grantors, creditors, and other stakeholders with information useful in identifying and assessing key trends.

Part 2 of Understanding. Preparing. Implementing. FASB ASU 2016-14 Reporting Requirements for Not-For-Profit Organizations will:

1) Analyze the changes in each financial statement. Helpful Hint: We recommend printing your audit statements to make it easier to compare and take notes.

2) Review typical chart of account changes needed to facilitate the new reporting.

3) Assess the accounting that may be needed in day-to-day and/or year-to-year processes.

4) Review the footnote changes that will be required. While many auditors prepare these for their clients, it’s smart to think them through and own the process.

Download the white paper

FASB proposes clarifications to accounting for grants and contributions

FASB proposes clarifications to accounting for grants and contributions

At a glance

A new FASB proposal will become effective in 2019 and will require nonprofits to account for grants from the government differently and may affect the timing of revenue and expense recognition for both recipients and funders of condition grants and gifts.

What happened?
On August 3, the FASB proposed rules that would require some grants received by not-for-profit entities (NFPs) to be accounted for under the contribution accounting model instead of the new revenue recognition standard. The proposed changes could also alter the timing of recognition of revenues or expenses for conditional grants and gifts under the contribution accounting model. While accounting for contributions primarily affects NFP entities, the proposed amendments would apply to all entities, including business entities that make contributions or grants.

Five-step approach for revenue recognition

The core principle of the new standard is that revenue recognition should “depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services” (ASC 606-10-05-3). To accomplish this objective, reporting entities are to apply a five-step approach:

  • Identify the contract with the customer.
  • Identify the performance obligations in the contract.
  • Determine the transaction price.
  • Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract.
  • Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.

Key provisions
The differentiator between a contribution and an exchange transaction is whether there has been an “exchange of commensurate value.” The exposure draft proposes enhanced guidance for determining when such an exchange has taken place between the parties to a grant or gift arrangement. In an exchange transaction accounted for under the new revenue recognition standard, reciprocal benefits flow directly between the parties to the arrangement. If benefits ultimately flow to the general public, rather than to the funder, the proposal would require that the arrangement be accounted for as a contribution, rather than as an exchange transaction. This might occur when, for example, a government agency uses a grant arrangement to outsource its own obligation to provide certain benefits to the public. Because NFPs and business entities generally account for federal grant awards as exchange transactions today, the proposal would be a significant change for NFPs. However, business entities would not be affected, because transfers of resources from governments to business entities are outside the scope of the contribution accounting guidance.

The proposal would shift revenue recognition for many grants received by NFPs from an exchange model to the model for “conditional contributions.” Consequently, the FASB also proposes changes that would clarify the accounting for conditional contributions.
Those changes would also affect donors and donees in gift transactions. When a gift or grant is conditional, neither the giver nor the receiver can recognize expense or revenue until the condition is satisfied. The proposal would redefine a “conditional” gift or grant as one that specifies a barrier that must be overcome to be entitled to the promised funds, along with a requirement that the funds be returned (or the promisor released from its obligation) if the barrier is not overcome. Unless a gift or grant includes these more restrictive provisions, gifts or grants deemed to be “conditional” today would no longer qualify. As a result, recipients would recognize contribution income, and grantors
or donors would recognize contribution expense, earlier than they do today.

Effective date
The proposed amendments would have the same effective date as the new revenue standard. For public business entities and conduit bond obligors with publicly-traded debt, the proposed rules would be effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2017. Other entities would have an additional year.

Why is this important?
The proposed ASU would provide a more robust framework to determine when a transaction should be accounted for under the contribution accounting model or as an exchange transaction accounted for under other guidance (for example, ASC 606). In doing so, it seeks to harmonize the revenue recognition model used by NFPs for government grants, foundation grants, and charitable contributions. However, NFPs and
business entities could end up applying different revenue recognition models to similar grant transactions. The proposal also underscores the FASB’s intent that accounting for contributions should be consistent from the perspective of both the maker and the recipient of a contribution
or grant. Thus, the proposed changes for determining whether a contribution is conditional would apply equally to both resource providers and recipients.

Year End is the ideal time to document your financial policies and procedures

We have discovered that around fiscal year end might be the best time to document your financial policies and procedures.  We are usually preparing and implementing budgets and starting our audit preparation so we are usually in the planning and reviewing mode.

You can document your financial processes and see where you can make improvements.  You can look to see where you can implement new software and automate systems to reduce manual processes.

The written policies should document board and staff responsibilities and related segregation of duties.   You should consider what errors or irregularities could occur and what procedures would detect these errors or irregularities.  You should focus around cash disbursement, cash receipt, and payroll controls at a minimum.

Your financial policies and procedures should lay out clear expectations and encourage adherence.  Your financial policies and procedure manual should include audit, budget, and record retention policies.  Please contact us if we can help you document your financial polices and procedures.

Hiring an Accountant for your Nonprofit Isn’t Gettting Any Easier

Overall unemployment levels are historically low at 3 – 4% which is approaching full employment.   Robert Half reports that unemployment for accounts is actually below 2%.  As a result, hiring qualified talent is becoming more difficult if not impossible to achieve.  Nonprofits make double the number of errors compared to for profit businesses due to the complexity and under investing in the nonprofit accounting function.  Most nonprofits use accounting software that is not designed for nonprofit accounting.  This might be the perfect time to explore outsourcing a portion of the accounting depending on what types of activities you need internal staff to perform.

In the nonprofit community, outsourcing typically means long-term delegation of key operation to outside experts.  The accompanying expectation is improvement of the quality, strengthening effectiveness, and lowering or controlling costs.

A key difference in the nonprofit sector is not only controlling costs, but becoming a more effective organization.

Outsourcing accounting provides nonprofit organizations with a team of experts who have multiple client experiences which benefits its clients and the nonprofit organization’s it serves.  FTM has a team of nonprofit accounting experts to assist your organization with its accounting and finance function including hiring and training your internal staff.

You should look for the following in any accountant candidate that you are considering hiring for your Nonprofit:

  1. Your accountant should be able to keep your finances organized and under control.
  2. Your accountant should be able to enter your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities into accounting software.
  3.  Your accountant should understand the IRS requirements and generally accepted accounting practices to insure financial reports are properly prepared and accurate.
  4. Your accountant will make sure any employer taxes and tax filings are completed timely.
  5. Your accountant should be familiar with fund accounting and used fund accounting software.
  6. Your accountant should be familiar with reporting and be able to answer questions efficiently and effectively.
  7. Your accountant should be a resourceful problem solver.
  8. Your accountant should be self-motivated.

As difficult as it is to hire a good accountant, hiring an incompetent or incompatible person is even worse.    Competition for strong candidates can be challenging.  You can recruit applicants by asking us, your auditor, advertise in different places, and announce broadly.  You will want to assess the technical skills, communication skills, and timeliness of task completion of the applicants.    You will need to spend time on reference checks and be sure to ask about relevant nonprofit accounting experience and familiarity with your accounting software.  If cash flow is a significant problem in your organization, discuss it with the finalists.  When deciding salary, you might want to check with salary surveys or other organizations to see what they pay.

There are many right ways to hire a great accountant, and as you do so remember to balance your need for technical skills with someone who will help you strategize what are the best decisions for the organization.