The National Center for Charitable Statistics reported that more than 1.5 million nonprofits were registered with the IRS in 2015 (“The Nonprofit Sector in Brief,” https://urbn.is/33Gw82a). This compares to IRS statistics (https://www.irs.gov/statistics) showing approximately 14 million tax return–filing corporations, partnerships, and S corporations. In short, the nonprofit sector is a large one and represents an important practice sector for many CPAs. This month’s column reviews practical and educational resources for accountants and their nonprofit employers and clients.
Blackbaud is a commercial software vendor that provides cloud software and data intelligence resources for nonprofits, foundations, educational and healthcare organizations, as well as corporations (https://www.blackbaud.com). The Industry Insights section (https://bit.ly/2J8RDPJ), an excellent starting point to locate several free resources available to the general public, includes the Blackbaud Institute, the Blackbaud Institute Index, the Explorer knowledge base, and Blackbaud Resources. The organization also makes free webinars available and sponsors the sgEngage blog.
The Blackbaud Institute Index covers long-term U.S.-based charitable giving trends for more than 8,200 organizations and presents a webpage summary of the data on a quarterly basis (https://bit.ly/2Utz9i9). The trends can be examined by organization size (small, medium, large) and categorized by 12 industry sectors, such as animal welfare, healthcare, and public and society benefit. Links for the Blackbaud Institute Index for Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia/New Zealand are available near the bottom of the U.S. Index webpage.
Blackbaud publishes an annual downloadable Charitable Giving Report that covers philanthropic trends, by sector and organization size, and developments in donor retention and donation amounts, as well as international highlights; interested users can submit an e-mail request for the stand-alone charts (https://bit.ly/3a9mG9U). Readers can also download a two-page guide, “Benchmarking: The Insight Track to Success,” which advises organizations to stay focused on macro trends and not small fluctuations, share benchmarking goals across the organization, stay with a common set of measurements for consistency, and be willing to accept data that reflects negative outcomes (https://bit.ly/3do0tH9).
Blackbaud’s Explorer knowledge base is essentially a library of guidance that can be searched either by keyword or by clicking on detailed tables of contents (https://bit.ly/2J7tF7g). The information can be viewed by sector snapshots, engagement, demographics, and analytics. Among the jewels of the Explorer are the links to related downloadable Blackbaud publications, generally as PDF booklets, and articles on the sgEngage blog.
The materials available on Explorer are much too expansive to be summarized here, but include sector snapshot topics grouped under “giving” and “team structure and leadership.” Team structure and leadership includes topics such as organization management, technology, and financial management. The financial management webpage describes revenue strategy, operating reserves, and annual audit, with a link to download two reports, The Right Mix: How Diverse Income Models Influence Giving, and The Financial Management Toolkit.
Taking a quick look at the other areas, Engagement presents best practices for fundraising and marketing by a variety of approaches and activities. Demographics addresses research findings by key indicators, donor type, and other factors. Analytics covers six types of evaluations, as well as ways to use this information.
Blackbaud Institute Resources has a resource library and a popular series selection. The resource library materials (https://bit.ly/2WByspD) include research, webinars, and infographics, covering topics such as fundraising, leadership, and outcomes. The popular Toolkit Series (https://bit.ly/2UyW7nW) includes four downloadable booklets with step-by-step guidance, checklists, and best practices: a Privacy Toolkit, a Financial Management Toolkit, an Analytics Toolkit, and an End-of-Year Toolkit.
Live and archived webinars are available with free registration (https://bit.ly/3agJLYu). The programs generally run for 50 minutes; live program viewers receive access to the archived presentations, along with white paper format presentation notes. Archived webcasts are also available directly on the Blackbaud website as “on demand” videos, but without access to the slideshow notes. “FASB Revenue Recognition Standards for Nonprofits” (February 2019) provides an overview of FASB revenue recognition updates, the impact for nonprofits, and hypothetical examples of performance obligation, internal controls, and key considerations for management. “Storytelling with Financials” (April 2019) provides good talking points for CPAs working with nonprofit organizations and covers best practices for the foundations of financial management: budgeting, bookkeeping, and reporting; the importance of financial transparency; and the five key financial reports.
Blackbaud’s blog is housed on the sgEngage website, formerly named npEngage and still found at https://npengage.com/. The sgEngage blog presents articles on best practices, podcasts, reports, and free webinars on several issues important to nonprofit management. Although the blog is general in nature, there are many good accounting-related resources on the site, as well as some useful information to share with nonprofit clients, employers, and boards on which CPAs serve.
Podcasts are available on a weekly basis (https://bit.ly/39bDITI) and run approximately 30 minutes. They mostly pertain to management, fundraising, and marketing issues, not accounting or financial reporting topics, but they may be a good resource to recommend to managers of nonprofit organizations. Readers who are interested in Blackbaud’s annual Charitable Giving Report might enjoy the March 5, 2020, podcast, “Episode 137: Insights from the 2019 Charitable Giving Report,” which covers how to use the data from the study, the importance of measuring three-year trends, and how to use benchmark metrics.
The Nonprofit Industry Reports are a collection of downloadable PDFs and e-books available on the blog (https://bit.ly/2JbuxrL). As with the rest of the blog, the topical focus is general in nature, and many posts are also available on the Blackbaud website; however, the Reports blog page is definitely worth a look. Several free webinar series are also available (https://bit.ly/3bldU98), such as Giving Tuesday and #NoFilterNonProfit, which focus on fundraising, and Soul Purpose, which covers how to share an organization’s mission and message. The Financial Management series includes a discussion on general ledger structure, internal controls, auditing, financial transparency, and related topics.
A must-see accounting-related resource is an article from May 2019, “7 Tips for Navigating Nonprofit Compliance,” which is sprinkled with useful resource links (https://bit.ly/2J7x06i). One example is a 29-page e-book titled “The New Rules for Nonprofit Accounting and Reporting,” which covers revenue recognition (Accounting Standards Codification 606), financial statement presentation (ASU 2016-14), and the TCJA, among other laws and regulations. The “Nonprofit Accounting Cheat Sheet” is an infographic from 2016 that explains basic accounting terms, nonprofit revenue sources, and other fun facts (https://bit.ly/33Mrr76).