Accounting for Purchased Investments in Nonprofits

Purchased investments for a nonprofit organization refer to financial securities or assets that the organization acquires with the intent to earn a return on investment, generate income, or achieve other financial objectives. These investments could include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, or other marketable securities. Nonprofits may invest their funds to grow their financial resources, support their mission, or ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations.

Accounting Treatment for Purchased Investments:

When a nonprofit purchases investments, specific accounting procedures need to be followed to properly record and report these transactions. The accounting treatment involves several key steps:

  1. Initial Recognition: When the nonprofit acquires purchased investments, it should initially recognize them at the cost incurred to acquire them. This cost includes the purchase price of the investment itself, as well as any transaction fees or brokerage commissions associated with the purchase.
  2. Recording the Purchase: The organization should debit the appropriate investment account (e.g., “Purchased Investments” or “Marketable Securities”) and credit the appropriate cash or bank account to reflect the cost of the investment. This entry records the transaction on the organization’s books.
  3. Subsequent Valuation: The value of investments may fluctuate over time due to changes in market conditions. Nonprofits are required to periodically assess the fair market value of their purchased investments. Any changes in value are recorded in the investment account. Gains and losses from changes in value are typically recognized in the financial statements during the accounting period in which they occur.
  4. Income Recognition: If the purchased investments generate income, such as interest, dividends, or capital gains distributions, the nonprofit should record this income when it is earned. The income is typically recognized as revenue and credited to the appropriate revenue account.
  5. Disclosure and Reporting: Nonprofits are required to disclose information about their purchased investments in their financial statements. This includes details about the types of investments, their fair market value, any income generated, and any gains or losses realized. These disclosures provide transparency to stakeholders and help demonstrate the organization’s financial position.
  6. Realization of Gains or Losses: If the nonprofit decides to sell its purchased investments, any gains or losses realized from the sale should be recorded in the financial statements. Gains increase the organization’s revenue, while losses decrease it. The accounting treatment for gains and losses follows the principles of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or relevant accounting standards applicable to the organization.

It’s important for nonprofit organizations to accurately record and report their purchased investments and adhere to accounting standards to ensure proper financial reporting and compliance. Additionally, nonprofits should carefully consider their investment strategies and ensure that their investment activities align with their mission and financial goals. Consulting with accounting professionals or financial advisors can help nonprofits make informed decisions about their investment activities and ensure compliance with accounting standards.

Caroline Grimm

Caroline Grimm is an accounting educator and a small business enthusiast. She holds Masters and Bachelor degrees in Business Administration. She is the author of 13 books and the creator of Accounting How To YouTube channel and blog. For more information visit:

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