Nonprofit Financial Statements 101

Nonprofit financial statements are formal documents that provide a comprehensive overview of an organization’s financial performance, position, and cash flows. These statements are essential tools for assessing the financial health, transparency, and accountability of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit financial statements typically include three main components:

  1. Statement of Financial Position (Balance Sheet):
    • The balance sheet provides a snapshot of the organization’s financial position at a specific point in time, typically the end of the fiscal year. It presents the organization’s assets, liabilities, and net assets (equity) to show the overall financial health and stability.
    Components of the balance sheet include:
    • Assets: Resources owned by the nonprofit, such as cash, investments, accounts receivable, and property.
    • Liabilities: Debts and obligations owed by the nonprofit, such as accounts payable, loans, and deferred revenue.
    • Net Assets: The difference between total assets and total liabilities, representing the organization’s equity. Net assets are further categorized into unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted net assets based on donor restrictions.
  2. Statement of Activities (Income Statement):
    • The statement of activities provides a summary of the nonprofit’s revenues, expenses, gains, and losses for a specific period, usually the fiscal year. It shows how funds were generated and expended to accomplish the organization’s mission.
    Components of the statement of activities include:
    • Revenues: All income received by the nonprofit, such as donations, grants, program fees, and investment income.
    • Expenses: Costs incurred in carrying out the organization’s programs and operations, including program expenses, administrative expenses, and fundraising expenses.
    • Gains and Losses: Unplanned income (gains) or expenses (losses) not directly related to the nonprofit’s primary activities, such as the sale of assets.
  3. Statement of Cash Flows:
    • The statement of cash flows tracks the organization’s cash inflows and outflows during the fiscal year, providing insights into how cash is generated and used. It is categorized into three sections: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities.
    Components of the statement of cash flows include:
    • Operating Activities: Cash flows from the organization’s core operations, such as receipts from program fees and payments to suppliers.
    • Investing Activities: Cash flows related to the acquisition and disposal of long-term assets, such as property, investments, and equipment.
    • Financing Activities: Cash flows from sources of financing, including contributions, loans, and repayments of debts.

Nonprofit financial statements are typically accompanied by explanatory notes that provide additional details about accounting policies, significant transactions, commitments, and contingencies. These notes enhance the understanding of the financial information presented in the statements.

Nonprofit financial statements play a crucial role in demonstrating the organization’s financial accountability, transparency, and stewardship of resources to donors, funders, board members, staff, and other stakeholders. They also provide insights for strategic planning, decision-making, and assessing the organization’s financial sustainability.

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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