September 22, 2022 | BY admin
Fall is here, and many not-for-profits are starting to think about their 2023 budgets. If your budget process is on autopilot, think about changing things up this year — particularly if you’ve experienced recent shortfalls or found your budget to be less resilient than you’d like. Here are some ways for you to rethink your budgeting:
A holistic approach
Your nonprofit may not always approach its budget efficiently and productively. For example, budgeting may be done in silos, with little or no consultation among departments. Goals are set by executives, individual departments come up with their own budgets, and accounting or finance is charged with crunching the numbers.
You’d be better off approaching the process holistically. This requires collaboration and communication. Rather than forecasting on their own, accounting and finance should gather information from all departments.
Another habit to break? Underbudgeting. You can improve accuracy with techniques such as forecasting. This process projects financial performance based on:
- Historical data (for example, giving patterns),
- Economic and other trends, and
- Assumptions about circumstances expected to affect you during the budget period (for example, a major capital campaign).
Forecasting generally takes a longer-term view than budgeting — say, five years versus the typical one-year budget. It also provides valuable information to guide budget allocations and strategic planning.
You also might want to do some budget modeling where you game out different scenarios. Consider your options if, for example, you lost a major grant or were (again) unable to hold big, in-person fundraising events.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything for nonprofits, it’s the necessity of rainy-day funds. If you don’t already have a reserve fund, establish one. If you do have a reserve fund, avoid the temptation to skip a budget period or two of funding for it.
Another idea is to switch from your annual budget to a more flexible, rolling budget. You would still budget for four quarters but set certain intervals during which you’d adjust the numbers as circumstances dictate. Typically favored by organizations that experience volatile financial and service environments, rolling budgets can empower nonprofits to respond better to both crises and opportunities in a timely manner. Reach out for more ideas on crafting an accurate and effective budget.
May 05, 2020 | BY admin
Financial statements aren’t particularly meaningful without a relevant basis of comparison. There are two types of “benchmarks” that a company’s financials can be compared to — its own historical performance and the performance of other comparable businesses.
Before you conduct a benchmarking study, however, it’s important to make normalizing adjustments to avoid any misleading comparisons. This is especially important when looking at periods that include atypical financial results due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But there are a variety of factors that require normalizing adjustments.
Some normalizing adjustments are needed to distinguish between historical results that represent potential ongoing earning power and those that don’t. A one-time revenue (or expense) or gain (or loss) will temporarily distort the company’s results. To more accurately reflect the company’s future earnings potential, you would add back expenses and losses (or subtract the revenues and gains) that aren’t expected to recur.
For example, if a retailer temporarily closed its brick-and-mortar stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’d add back the temporary losses to get a clearer picture of operating performance under normal conditions. Likewise, if a company won a $10 million lawsuit, you’d subtract the gain. Other nonrecurring items might include discontinued product lines or expenses incurred in an acquisition.
Other normalizing adjustments compensate for the use of different accounting methods. Because companies’ accounting practices vary widely, comparing them without adjusting their financial statements is like comparing apples to oranges.
Even within the broad confines of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), it’s rare for two companies to follow exactly the same accounting practices. When comparing a company’s results to industry benchmarks, you need to understand how they report transactions.
A small firm, for example, might report earnings when cash is received (cash basis accounting), but its competitor might record a sale when it sends out the invoice (accrual basis accounting). Differences in inventory reporting, pension reserves, depreciation methods, tax accounting practices and cost capitalization vs. expensing policies also are common.
Another type of normalizing adjustment focuses on closely held businesses. They often pay owners based on the company’s cash flow or the owners’ personal needs, not on the market value of services the owners provide. Small businesses also may employ family members, conduct business with affiliates and extend loans to company insiders.
To get a clearer picture of the company’s performance, you’ll need to identify all related-party transactions and inquire whether they occur at “arm’s length.” Also consider reconciling for unusual perquisites provided to insiders, such as season tickets to sporting events, college tuition or company vehicles.
We can help
To complicate matters, normalizing adjustments can affect multiple accounts. While most normalizing adjustments are made to the income statement, some may flow through to the balance sheet. Our accounting professionals can help with these critical adjustments to a company’s financial statements, enabling you to make better-informed business decisions.
April 20, 2020 | BY admin
One of the many challenges of operating a not-for-profit organization during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is that just when you desperately need financial support, many donors are unable to help. Widespread unemployment, stock market volatility and general uncertainty make even dependable donors reluctant to part with their money.
Then there’s the fact that donors are receiving a staggering number of charitable solicitations right now. If your nonprofit doesn’t directly serve constituencies harmed by COVID-19, your appeals are likely to go to the bottom of donors’ piles. Here are some ideas for keeping your organization’s needs top of mind.
Avoid mass appeals
Now is generally not the time to make mass appeals for donations. If you do contact your entire mailing list, use the opportunity to express concern for your supporters’ well-being and to update them on how your organization is faring under the circumstances. Also let donors know that charitable donations made in 2020 are deductible up to $300, even if donors don’t itemize.
To keep supporters engaged, stay on top of your social media accounts. Use Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to announce program suspensions and reopening dates and to share success stories — either recent or, if your nonprofit is temporarily closed, from the past.
Reach out to significant donors in person. Obviously, face-to-face meetings are out of the question, so give major supporters a phone call or arrange for a videoconference. Be sensitive to donors’ financial challenges and prepare to be flexible. If donors express the desire to help but can’t commit to an amount right now, suggest they might want to make a multi-year gift or include your nonprofit in their estate plans.
Donors might also be able to provide your group with professional services — such as PR expertise or legal advice — or be willing to contribute an item to an online fundraising auction. It’s a great time to learn more about major donors and ask them how they want to help, now and in the future. You may be surprised by their answers.
Chances are these supporters are well established in the community and have friends and colleagues they can introduce to your nonprofit. If these well-connected donors aren’t already on your board, invite them to become members — or ask them to chair a future event.
Resist the temptation
Although you may be tempted to throw yourself on the mercy of donors, desperate appeals may not be wise right now. Donors generally want to invest in fiscally sound nonprofits that will be around for the long haul. So long as your nonprofit has adequate operating reserves and a contingency plan, you should be able to weather the current storm. Contact us if you need help getting over any hurdles in the meantime.
April 06, 2020 | BY admin
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27. Among other economic relief measures, the new law allows large public banks to temporarily postpone the controversial current expected credit loss (CECL) standard. Here are the details.
Updated accounting rules
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-13, Financial Instruments — Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, in response to the financial crisis of 2007–2008. The updated CECL standard relies on estimates of probable future losses. By contrast, existing guidance relies on an incurred-loss model to recognize losses.
In general, the updated standard will require entities to recognize losses on bad loans earlier than under current U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). It’s scheduled to go into effect for most public companies in 2020. In October 2019, the deadline for smaller reporting companies was extended from 2021 to 2023, and, for private entities and nonprofits, it was extended from 2022 to 2023.
Option to delay
Under the CARES Act, large public insured depository institutions (including credit unions), bank holding companies, and their affiliates have the option of postponing implementation of the CECL standard until the earlier of:
- The end of the national emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 crisis, or
- December 31, 2020.
Many public banks have made significant investments in systems and processes to comply with the CECL standard, and they’ve communicated with investors about the changes. So, some may decide to stay the course. But many large banks are expected to take advantage of the option to delay implementation.
Congress decided to provide a temporary reprieve from implementing the changes for a variety of reasons. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a volatile, uncertain lending environment that may result in significant credit losses for some banks.
To measure those losses, banks must forecast into the foreseeable future to predict losses over the life of a loan and immediately book those losses. But making estimates could prove challenging in today’s unprecedented market conditions. And, once a credit loss has been recognized, it generally can’t be recouped on the financial statements. Plus, there’s some concern that the CECL model would cause banks to needlessly hold more capital and curb lending when borrowers need it most.
So far, the FASB hasn’t delayed the CECL standard. But the COVID-19 crisis has front-loaded concerns about the CECL standard, prompting critics in both the House and Senate to step up their efforts to block the standard. Contact us for the latest developments on this issue.
March 31, 2020 | BY admin
As the emotional, physical and financial chaos of the past few weeks continues, so does the stress affecting your employees. Thanks to a little-known tax provision, you can now relieve some of that anxiety by providing cash gifts to your team that are tax-free to them, and fully deductible to you.
In general, an employer cannot give a “gift” to an employee. Regardless of intent, any payment from employer to employee is taxed to the employee as compensation. However, Section 139 — added to the Code after September 11th— says that during a federally declared disaster, an employer can reimburse or pay an employee for “reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses.” These payments are tax-free to the employees, but fully deductible to the employer.
Beginning immediately, employers can assist employees in managing the COVID-19 crisis in the following ways:
Qualified Disaster Relief Payments
- An employee’s medical expenses that are not compensated for by insurance, for example, the employee’s deductible and out-of-pocket expenses
- The cost of over-the-counter medications and hand sanitizer
- Funeral costs of an employee or a member of an employee’s family
- The cost of enabling an employee to work from home throughout the pandemic, for example, the cost of a computer, cell phone, printer, supplies and increased utility costs of the employee
- The cost of an employee’s child care or tutoring for family members that cannot attend school during the pandemic
Please note: Payments that are otherwise compensated for by insurance or that are intended to replace lost income do not qualify.
Interestingly, Section 139 does not require that employees complete a certain period of service to be eligible to receive these tax-free payments, nor is the employer required to maintain any formal plan or documentation. Nevertheless, it would be wise for employers to document their intention to make payments covered by Section 139, as well as the following:
Important Payment Information to be Documented by Employer
- The amounts paid, and to whom
- The start and end dates of any Section 139 “payment program”
- A general list of the expenses that will be paid or reimbursed on behalf of the employees
- Any maximum amount per-employee or in the aggregate that the employer will pay
You put your heart and soul into your business, and your employees have become your family. We understand how important it is for you to be a backbone for them and help in whatever way you can. We encourage you to take this opportunity to support your employees in a very practical way and be there when they need you most.
Wishing everyone happy and healthy YomTov.