How to Allocate Functional Expenses for Nonprofits

Despite all of the good that nonprofits do, they still need to accurately report their expenses to the government through a statement of functional expenses. A statement for reporting functional expenses is done under two different classifications. This happens because of the rules set by the board for nonprofit organizations. The entire process can be a little tough and intimidating but you do not have to worry. Here is an example of how the document is constructed and how the expenses are recorded. In functional expense allocation, your nonprofit’s costs and expenses are distributed among different functional areas.

  • If an expense can be specifically identified with a program or supporting activity, then it should be assigned to that function.
  • A U.S.-based international CPA can draw on expertise in all of these areas when advising you on your unique business setup.
  • The Statement Of Cash Flows reports on all cash flowing into and out of the nonprofit organization.
  • So for those categories, you’ll need to allocate your expenses according to how much they contribute to each function, which we’ll discuss a little further down the page.
  • Many donors will review organizations’ Form 990s as part of deciding which organization they wish to donate.
  • Guidelines for properly allocating expenses involve understanding the organization’s mission and goals, categorizing expenses appropriately, ensuring consistency in accounting methods, and keeping accurate records.

This is known as a cost allocation plan — and not only does it save time later, it’s also a requirement for most grants. Auditors will also review this plan to make sure you’re following necessary procedures. “The devil is in the details.” It’s an old saying about hidden, mysterious aspects of a situation that could cause problems later.


Properly classified and recorded functional expenses allow the organization to appeal to donors and keep their nonprofit tax-exempt status. appear on published financial statements and may be used by donors and granters, rating agencies, and even the press. Setting up an effective chart of accounts and documenting a formal allocation procedure are essential first steps for all organizations. Accurately assigning costs to appropriate functions is a critical aspect of nonprofit management. Not only does it ensure that resources are allocated to where they are needed most, but it also helps organizations make informed decisions based on real data. Moreover, accurate cost assignments help nonprofits develop realistic budgets, monitor and control expenses, and report financial information to stakeholders with greater transparency and accuracy.

  • When allocating expenses to a program, there needs to be direct conduct or direct supervision of the program to be able to charge the expense to the program.
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  • So you can divide your yearly rent (which we’ll say is $50,000) by how much space everyone takes up.
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While our example CEO was the only employee floating between functions, in most nonprofits it’s common for all employees to perform multiple roles and pitch in where they’re needed. So not understanding where your employees’ time goes means you could potentially miss out on allocating less money to overhead expenses and more to programs. But outside of supplies and materials, many nonprofit expenses don’t fit neatly into one functional classification. As we’ll see when examining other allocation methods, many costs can — and should — be spread across different functional classes. For many nonprofit expenses, you’ll have to use an indirect method of calculating and allocating costs. Program services describe the activities that an organization engages in to further its mission.

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Most donors prefer to see organizations reduce these expenses when possible. You would only need to add revenue totals for the month to have a complete statement of functional expenses. If we take the salary portion of the statement of functional expenses above and combine it with the other expenses, you’ll have a complete accounting of expenses for October. Next, we need to divide that amount by all three functional expense categories. This can be done by the area used by each category or by the number of people in each department, whichever is easier.

How to Allocate Functional Expenses for Your Nonprofit

General and Administrative expenses are those related to administering the everyday activities of your organization. This typically includes expenses such as insurance, accounting, and governance. Although these expenses are certainly essential in running your organization, they are not directly related to the purpose for which your nonprofit was formed.

There are 3 core functional expense categories:.

With this, the organization not only is able to run the cash exchange in management swiftly but also in better achievement of goals on financial status. As per Financial Accounting Standards Board’s requirement, a nonprofit organization is supposed to categorize the expenses on the basis of its purpose. Natural expenditure here tells us about where the money went in respect to what in return. For example, the salary of a teacher would be allocated to “Program Services” in an educational nonprofit. Allocating your costs in detail on your financial statements showcases how much of your funds go to program costs vs. administrative and other areas.

However, functional expense allocation breaks them down even further to provide a better picture of your costs. Your program services costs, for instance, can be subdivided as individual programs to show costs incurred to run each program separately (rather than combining all programs in one column). Program Services are the costs related to providing programs in accordance with your organization’s mission. Ideally, the majority of your nonprofit’s expenses would be allocated to programs. Donors generally prefer to support organizations that spend more of their money on programs.

This transparency isn’t lost on generous stakeholders looking for a cause to support, as they understandably want to see how their donated funds make a direct impact. Nonprofit reporting is different from that of a for-profit business, with nonprofits issuing the following financial statements. The Statement Of Activities is similar to the Income Statement businesses issue. The Statement of Activities looks at the entire organization and reports on the revenues and expenses of the nonprofit during a specific reporting period. Yet many nonprofits struggle to keep their books updated or create the financial statements they need on time.