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Fund Accounting for Non-Profits

Fund Accounting is the method by which non-profit organizations maintain multiple funds (activities) within one set of records. These funds are typically the General (Operating) Fund, Temporary Restricted Funds and Permanent Restricted Funds. Logos Accounting allows your organization to choose to follow FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) rules in defining these funds, or less rigid definitions that are widely used by many non-profit organizations.

FASB Rules

General Fund manages the operations of the organization: receipts, salaries, supplies, utilities, etc. Transactions that are the result of normal operations belong to this fund.

Temporary Restricted Funds identify receipts that have some type of temporary restriction. These restrictions typically are bound by a legal document and restrict the use of funds to a stated purpose. In some cases the principal is permanently restricted while the dividends are temporarily restricted. When a receipt is temporarily restricted it means that eventually these funds could be expended for items that meet the criteria of the restriction. All activity for these restricted funds is calculated into Temporary Fund accounts.

Permanent Restricted Funds are used for receipts when the principal can never be used or disposed of, even if the original purpose no longer applies. In many cases, the dividends or increases in value can be used for a specific purpose or for general use. If the dividends or increases can be used for a specific purpose, that money would be considered Temporary Restricted. If the proceeds can be used for general use, then the dividends or increases carry no restriction at all and would be placed in the General Fund.

Common Practice

Many not-for-profit organizations (and most churches and schools) use Temporary and Permanently Restricted funds somewhat differently from the FASB rules. Organizations frequently use one checking account for the entire operation, maintaining multiple fund balances within that one account. Temporary and/or Permanent Restricted Funds effectively manage activity and balances for multiple funds. With either or both of these fund types, you easily maintain separate Fund Balances that reflect the cash that is due to each fund. If your organization chooses this record keeping approach, we suggest the following:

  • To track multiple funds in one checking account, use the Temporary Restricted Fund (LT) type. This will effectively maintain separate fund balances for activity such as Youth Group, Missions, Relief Fund, etc.
  • Define funds that are maintained separately over a period of time as Permanent Restricted Fund (LF) type. This will allow you to allocate monies for the purpose of purchasing new equipment, major renovations, new building projects, etc.
  • You may choose to use only one or the other restricted fund type as they operate identically except for being listed separately on the Balance Sheet report. This reporting feature gives you the flexibility to easily group types of funds as you prefer.

These commonly used procedures let you easily identify monies that are used for ongoing activities within your organization (General Fund) from monies being reserved for specific projects and/or large purchases. Although these common practices are not considered standard accounting practice, they are widely used. You should always consult an accountant to evaluate the proper methods for recording activities within your organization.