Government Fund Accounting: Fund Types & GASB 87 Leases

define fund accounting

They report actual revenues and expenditures and compare them with those budgeted. Anticipated expenditures are based on purchase orders, whose total is recognized as an encumbrance or obligation against the budget. Some accountants claim that this encumbrance accounting confuses the reader of the statement. The AICPA audit guide on colleges and universities enjoins them from recognizing encumbrances,2 and this practice has been urged for government organizations as well. The notion that every program activity, or grant received by your nonprofit must be set up as a separate fund causes confusion. While management might think this is giving them better information, it really is clumsy, confusing and creates an inordinate amount of work.

What is fund accounting and NAV?

Net asset value (NAV) represents a fund's per-share intrinsic value. It is similar in some ways to the book value of a company. NAV is calculated by dividing the total value of all the cash and securities in a fund's portfolio, minus any liabilities, by the number of outstanding shares.

Grants from foundations restrict use funds for a particular program or purpose. Under these conditions, documentation will specify the restrictions of a grant award. In order to record the expenses that use funds from a grant, you’ll need to create an expense category specific for cash and cash equivalents. A fund is a pool of money that has been created for a specific reason.

Why Your Organization Needs Fund Accounting

If you can think of answers to the above question, write them down. These will be the funds you will want to track once you have your system set up. During Fiscal Year 2009, the city assessed property owners a total of $37 million for property taxes.

define fund accounting

By utilizing this system of tracking funds, you can maintain accurate financial records for your organization and all of its directives, empowering you to generate powerful financial statements and make key decisions. Fund accounting is a method of bookkeeping used by a nonprofit organization that illustrates accountability, rather than profitability. In a business, you want to know how much was spent, how much was earned, and how much was left over.

Accountability, Not Profitability in Fund Accounting

If, for example, the institution attracts mostly restricted gifts, with few endowment or unrestricted gifts, its operating funds may eventually suffer. Similarly, if it receives few endowment gifts, its endowment principal may not grow sufficiently to generate the higher income needed in future years to keep pace with costs. Clearly these nonprofit organizations—including hospitals, educational institutions, religious groups, arts groups, social agencies, and museums, as well as municipalities—are under pressure to make their financial status better understood. Their managers, their board members or trustees, and taxpayers need to understand and deal with the reports that present their financial condition. Thus armed, they can press for better management of these institutions.

If you are acting as administrator for someone else’s pension/OPEB plans, the plans still must meet the criteria above to be reported in a trust fund. Revenues and expenditures should be reported at gross amounts by account and not netted against each other. You apply for (and are awarded) a grant that provides $5,000 to be spent on veterinary functions. This money comes in the form of a check that you deposit into your organization’s checking account.

Invest in Fund Accounting Software for Your Organization

Keep in mind this is a picture representation to simplify the explanation. You first have the three funds annotated in the top three boxes under the Organization box. The next three boxes noted “Self Balancing Chart of Accounts…” is where these self balancing accounts isolate themselves. Then these self balancing accounts roll up into the “Master Chart of Accounts” seen in the bottom box. We know that’s a lot of information but let’s break this out a little to understand the self balancing part of the definition.

Though written for use by grantees of HUD’s homeless programs, the general principles and descriptions are equally applicable to HUD’s Multifamily Housing programs. Remember the Scholarship fund had its own expenditure accounts set up. Let’s use an example of where we paid tuition for two children, at $25,000/year. These expenses are recorded using the expense account called 7000-tuition. You would not have the ability to see that $400.00 came in from the CD’s dividend.


FASB117 and FIN46 are the IRS resources that outline all needs of a nonprofit accounting system. However, for this particular course, we will solely focus on what it is and how you can implement it for your organization. By putting your accounting needs in the hands of fund accounting experts, your organization will ensure you meet all of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and FASB requirements. These 501(C)(3) organizations are the primary type of organization discussed in matters of fund accounting.

Fund accounting helps to avoid this unfortunate real life example. It emphasizes why not for profits must be very concise and clear to their donors on how they are using donations, then record them appropriately. First, we need to understand what a “self balancing set of accounts” means. It means when entering a transaction, there’s a debit, credit, and a fund.

In fund accounting, each grant and source of income is unique, has its own fund, own chart of accounts, and own specific list of eligible activities. Incurred costs are only eligible for federal reimbursement when those costs are allocated to the specific fund source, based on proper supporting documentation. MIP is today’s leading accounting software for nonprofits and government organizations across the nation. Designed to let you track unlimited funds and manage your books with ease, MIP Fund Accounting® software offers a simple way to manage intricate financial processes in a single, user-friendly system. At MIP, we offer GASB-compliant accounting software to streamline your financial management.

  • The understanding was they were to build a women’s center honoring his late mother.
  • The term proceeds of specific revenue sources establishes that one or more specific restricted or committed revenues should be foundation for a special revenue fund.
  • Consequently, financial reporting will show how revenue spending complies with government regulations.
  • Families would cash their checks and bring majority of the cash home.
  • A very simplistic example is your grandmas envelope system back in the day.
  • Fund Accounting – an accounting system emphasizing accountability rather than profitability, used by non-profit organizations, public service entities, and governments.
  • So we will concentrate on examples of each so you have the funds set right.

Firstly, funds classify the type of revenue received by a nonprofit and purpose of these funds. Lastly, some funds represent donor restrictions or board designations. Fund accounting for nonprofits tracks nonprofit revenue and expenses, demonstrating accountability rather than profits to funding sources. Let’s take a deep dive into the basics of fund accounting and why nonprofits need to understand it.