Financial Reporting for Not-for-Profit Organisations

By Team bluQube

Non-profit organisations play a crucial role in society by addressing various social, environmental, and humanitarian needs. However, managing the finances of these organisations requires a different approach compared to for-profit entities.


In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the world of non-profit accounting and financial reporting, exploring its intricacies, requirements, and significance.


 What is Non-profit Accounting?

Non-profit accounting encompasses the financial management practices specific to organisations dedicated to social causes rather than profit generation. Various types of non-profit organisations exist, each serving a distinct purpose:


Community Improvement and Capacity Building

These non-profits focus on enhancing the well-being of communities by addressing issues related to housing, economic development, and infrastructure. They often collaborate with local governments, businesses, and community members to implement programs and initiatives that promote sustainable growth and prosperity.


Educational Non-profit Organisations

Dedicated to providing educational opportunities, these organisations range from schools and universities to educational foundations and scholarship programs. They aim to improve access to quality education, enhance academic outcomes, and empower individuals through learning and skill development.


Faith-Based Organisations

Churches, mosques, temples, and other religious institutions fall under this category, focusing on spiritual and community-oriented activities. In addition to religious services, they may offer various social services, such as food assistance, counselling, and community events, to support their members and the wider community.


Non-profit Healthcare Organisations

Hospitals, clinics, and medical research institutions aim to provide healthcare services and improve public health outcomes. They focus on preventative care, treatment, and research to address health disparities and promote overall well-being in their communities.


Human Services Organisations

These non-profits offer assistance and support to individuals and families in need, addressing issues such as poverty, homelessness, and domestic violence. They provide essential services, including housing assistance, counselling, employment training, and emergency relief, to help vulnerable populations lead stable and fulfilling lives.


International Non-profits and NGOs

Operating across borders, these organisations tackle global challenges such as poverty, hunger, and environmental sustainability. They work in partnership with local communities, governments, and other stakeholders to implement development projects, provide humanitarian aid, and advocate for policy change to create lasting impact and positive change.


Membership Organisations

These include clubs, associations, and societies formed around common interests or professions, serving the needs and interests of their members. They provide networking opportunities, professional development resources, and advocacy efforts to promote the interests and well-being of their members and advance their respective fields or causes.


Philanthropic Organisations

Foundations, trusts, and grant-making entities focus on distributing funds to support charitable causes and initiatives. They provide financial support to non-profit organisations, research institutions, and community projects, leveraging their resources to address pressing social issues and drive positive social change.


What are the Basics of Non-profit Accounting?

Non-profit accounting follows the same fundamental principles as for-profit accounting, including recording transactions, preparing financial statements, and complying with relevant regulations. However, there are key differences in how financial information is presented and used.


Are there Financial Reporting Requirements for Non-profits?

Yes, non-profits are subject to specific financial reporting requirements to ensure transparency and accountability. In the UK, charity reporting and accounts are regulated by the Charity Commission. The reporting requirements vary based on the annual income of the charity:


Charity Reporting and Accounts

What does your charity need to prepare? All charities must prepare annual reports and accounts. The reporting requirements depend on the charity's annual income:


All Charities

Charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must submit annual reports and accounts to the Charity Commission.


Annual Income of £5,000 to £25,000

All charities with an annual income above £5,000 are required by law to register with the Charity Commission. Every registered charity must produce a trustees’ annual report and make it available on request.

Those with an income below £10,000 are required to submit an Annual Update to the Charity Commission, which includes changes to the charity’s details, changes to trustee details, plus income and expenditure for the year.

Those with annual income above £10,000 (and all CIOs, regardless of income) must submit an annual return to the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of their financial year, which includes information from the annual accounts and trustees’ annual report.


Annual Income between £25,000 and £250,000

Mid-sized charities with annual incomes between £25,000 and £250,000 must have their annual accounts independently examined or audited. These form part of the annual return, which must be submitted to the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of the financial year with the simplified trustees’ annual report. Non-company charities with gross income of £250,000 or less  can elect to prepare simpler receipts and payments accounts which contain a statement summarising all money received and paid out by the charity in the financial year, and a statement giving details of its assets and liabilities at the end of the year. Charitable companies are not allowed by company law to adopt this method. An Independent examination is a ‘light touch’ scrutiny involving the examiner checking for specific matters only. Because it is narrowly defined and does not involve forming an opinion as to whether the accounts are ‘true and fair’, it usually costs less than an audit.


Annual Income between £250,000 and £1m

Non-company charities with an annual income between £250,000 and £1m (with assets worth less than £3.26m) and all charitable companies must prepare accruals accounts that comply with the applicable Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP). They contain a balance sheet, a statement of financial activities and explanatory notes. These accounts are required in accountancy terms to show a ‘true and fair view’. They must be either audited or independently examined by an individual who is a member of a body approved by the Charity Commission, such as ACIE.  These form part of the annual return, which must be submitted to the Charity Commission within 10 months of the end of the financial year with a simplified trustees’ annual report.


Annual Income over £1m

Charities with annual incomes exceeding £1 million face stricter reporting requirements. The trustees of charities with gross income of more than £1 million (or more than £250,000 and with gross assets of more than £3.26 million) must arrange for their charity’s accounts to be audited.


Charitable Companies

Charitable companies must comply with both charity law and company law reporting requirements, including the preparation of statutory financial statements and directors' reports.


Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs)

CIOs have specific reporting obligations outlined by the Charity Commission, including the preparation of annual reports and accounts and the submission of an annual return.


Trustees' Annual Report

Charities must include a trustees' annual report alongside their financial statements, providing insights into the organisation's activities, achievements, and governance arrangements. The trustees' annual report should also include a statement of public benefit and other required disclosures.


Registered Status to Appear on Documents

All official documents, including correspondence, promotional materials, and financial statements, must display the charity's registered status and charity number to enhance transparency and credibility.


Charity Commission Guidance and Packs

The Charity Commission provides guidance and resources to help charities understand and fulfil their reporting obligations, including model accounts, templates, and guidance notes on specific reporting issues.


What are the Differences between Profit vs Non-profit Accounting?

While both profit and non-profit organisations follow similar accounting principles, their primary objectives and reporting requirements differ significantly. Profit-oriented businesses focus on generating revenue and maximising shareholder returns, whereas non-profits aim to fulfil their charitable mission and serve the public interest.


What are the Key Components of Non-profit Financial Statements?

Non-profit financial statements typically include:


Statement of Financial Position (Balance Sheet)

This statement presents the organisation's assets, liabilities, and net assets at a specific point in time, providing insights into its financial position and liquidity.


Statement of Activities (Income Statement)

Similar to the income statement in for-profit accounting, this statement details the organisation's revenues, expenses, gains, and losses over a specific period, reflecting its financial performance and sustainability.


Statement of Functional Expenses

This statement classifies expenses by their functional categories, such as program services, administration, and fundraising, allowing stakeholders to evaluate the organisation's efficiency and effectiveness in resource allocation.


Statement of Cash Flow

This statement provides insights into the organisation's cash inflows and outflows during a specified period, categorising transactions into operating, investing, and financing activities, and highlighting its ability to generate and manage cash flows effectively.


Why Do Non-profits Need Financial Statements?

Financial statements are essential for non-profits to demonstrate accountability to stakeholders, including donors, members, beneficiaries, and regulatory authorities. They provide valuable insights into the organisation's financial health, sustainability, and performance, helping stakeholders make informed decisions and assess the impact of their contributions.


Charities Act 2022

The Charities Act 2022 outlines the legal framework for the regulation and governance of charities in the UK, including reporting and accountability requirements, to promote transparency, integrity, and public trust in the charitable sector.


How Can Non-profit Financial Statements Be Used for Decision-Making?

Non-profit financial statements serve as valuable tools for informed decision-making by providing insights into resource allocation, budgeting, fundraising strategies, and program evaluation. They enable non-profit leaders and stakeholders to assess the organisation's financial performance, sustainability, and impact, guiding strategic planning and ensuring the effective stewardship of resources.



Effective financial reporting is vital for the transparency, accountability, and sustainability of non-profit organisations. By understanding the basics of non-profit accounting, complying with reporting requirements, and leveraging financial statements for decision-making, non-profits can fulfil their missions and make a meaningful impact on society, advancing social justice, equity, and opportunity for all.

If you would like to find out how bluQube can help your organisation, please get in touch or request a demo.

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