The following series is a listing of some of the financial statement errors found in Not-for-Profit organizations. I have broken it down by the different financial reports.
The Statement of Financial Position which is commonly referred to as a Balance Sheet may have the following financial statement errors:
- Display of current/noncurrent assets without displaying current/noncurrent liabilities when a classified statement is used.
- Improperly including items in cash and cash equivalents, such as cash held or other assets that are restricted or not available for current use.
- Failure to report cash, contributions receivable, and other assets that are restricted for a long-term purpose separately from unrestricted cash and cash equivalents, contributions receivable or other assets.
- Recording deferred revenue for amounts received under a “grant” instead of recording temporarily restricted revenue in circumstances where the “grant” is, in substance, a temporarily restricted contribution and not a true cost-reimbursement arrangement.
- Improper reporting of beneficial interests in assets or net assets held by others, such as in the instance of an entity transferring assets to a community foundation and naming itself beneficiary.
- Failure to distinguish between operating leases and capital leases and apply the proper accounting under the circumstances. A capital lease is recorded as both an asset and a liability on the statement of financial position. An operating lease is not reported on the statement of financial position and is expensed as incurred.
- Missing one or more of the required totals: total assets, total liabilities, total net assets, permanently restricted net assets, temporarily restricted net assets, and unrestricted net assets.
The Statement of Activities which is commonly referred to as an income statement or statement of revenues and expenses may have the following financial statement errors:
- Improperly releasing temporarily restricted net assets that are subject to both a time and purpose restriction when one, but not the other, restriction is met.
- Reporting revenues from exchange transactions as increases in restricted net assets. Only those revenues related to contributions with donor-imposed restrictions can result in restricted net assets.
- Reporting amounts receivable under a cost-reimbursement contract/grant as temporarily restricted (may be legally limited as to use, but it is an unrestricted activity for which unrestricted costs have been incurred).
- Recording amounts as a receivable under cost-reimbursement contract/grant for which costs have not been incurred.
- Failing to properly classify revenue transactions (or portions thereof) as contribution or exchange transactions.
Improperly including expenses in temporarily or permanently restricted net assets. Expenses should decrease unrestricted net assets.
- Erroneously reporting just one program service function when the NFP has more than one major class of program services. For example, an NFP may have programs for health or family services, research, disaster relief, and public education, among others.
- Failure to recognize contributions of services that meet the recognition criteria or recognizing
contributed services that do not meet the criteria as discussed in paragraphs 16-17 of FASB ASC 958- 605-25.
- Not reporting contribution revenue for gifts-in-kind (free or below-market rent, services provided by another organization, donated supplies, donated media, and so on.)
- Not reporting costs of soliciting contributions, including costs of soliciting contributed services that do not meet the recognition criteria, as fundraising costs.
The Statement of Cash Flows may have the following financial statement errors:
- Failing to display donor restricted capital-type contributions (permanently restricted gifts, gifts restricted for acquisition of property) as a financing activity.
- Failing to display information about noncash gifts for endowment or property, plant and equipment purposes.
- Failing to disclose indebtedness incurred for the acquisition of assets as a noncash activity.
- Netting amounts for purchases and sales of property, plant and equipment.
- Improperly reporting unrestricted contributions that were subsequently designated by the governing board for long-term purposes as a financing activity rather than an operating activity.
- Failure to report as investing activities the cash flows from purchases, sales, and insurance recoveries of unrecognized, noncapitalized collection items.
The Statement of Functional Expenses may have the following financial statement errors:
- Failing to include certain expenses in the statement (for example, expenses netted against revenues or non-operating expenses).
- Failing to include the statement when one is required (voluntary health and welfare entities).
- Management and general expenses are inappropriately or completely reallocated to other functional categories. For example, costs associated with soliciting funds other than contributions, including applications for and administering certain grants and contracts, are allocated to program services or fundraising activities.
- Within the listing of natural expenses in a Statement of Functional Expenses, including a function or program line item. For example, within the listing of natural expenses listing the line item “grant expenses” which might have already been allocated such items as payroll, occupancy and supplies.
The Notes to the Financial Statements may have the financial statement errors:
- Failing to include the required disclosure for summarized financial information.
- Failing to disclose an adequate description of the organization’s activities, including each major class of
- Failing to disclose the capitalization policy for property, plant and equipment.
- Failing to disclose discount rates used in present value measurements, such as in measuring unconditional promises to give or split-interest agreements.
- Failing to disclose information about the nature of temporary or permanent restrictions on net assets.
- Failing to disclose information about the programs or activities for which contributed services were used.
- Failing to present reclassifications which are in effect corrections of errors as restatements. However when reclassifications are not corrections or errors, failing to describe the nature of reclassifications made to prior-year amounts to conform to current year presentation when such reclassifications are significant, even if such reclassifications had no effect on the prior year’s change in net assets.
- Failing to disclose total fundraising costs. When a statement of functional expenses is presented and certain fundraising costs have been netted against revenue, such netted costs need to be included in total fundraising costs.
- Failing to disclose total program expenses if the components of total program expenses are not evident from the details provided on the face of the statement of activities (for example, if cost of sales is not identified as either program or supporting services).
- Failure to disclose material related party transactions as set forth in FASB ASC 850-10. Related parties include, but are not limited to, the following: officers, board members, founders, substantial contributors, and their immediate family members; members of any related party’s immediate family; parties providing concentrations in revenues and receivables; supporting organizations; financially interrelated entities; or other entities whose officers, governing board members, owners, or employees are members of the NFP’s governing board or senior management, if those individuals have significant influence to an extent that one or more of the transacting parties might be prevented from fully pursuing its own separate interests.
We hope you find this list helpful as your review and evaluate your current financial statements. The notes to the financial statements are typically only included in the audited financial statements which means the organization is typically unaware of these disclosures. We work with our clients on a daily basis to review and update the financial statements on a regular basis so let us know if you would like us to review and update your financial reports.