What is a Nonprofit Balance Sheet?

The Nonprofit Balance Sheet or Statement of Financial Position reflects the financial stability of the organization. It allows stakeholders, including donors, grantors, board members, and management, to assess the organization’s financial health and sustainability. Regularly reviewing and understanding the balance sheet is essential for effective financial management in the nonprofit sector.

Why is the Nonprofit Balance Sheet important?

  • Financial Health Snapshot
    The balance sheet provides a concise snapshot of the organization’s financial health at a specific moment in time, showcasing assets, liabilities, and net assets. This allows stakeholders to quickly assess the financial strength and sustainability of the nonprofit.
  • Resource Management & Risk Management
    By presenting a detailed view of the assets (from cash to tangible assets like property), the balance sheet aids nonprofits in making informed decisions about resource allocation, ensuring that they are used efficiently and effectively toward fulfilling their mission.
  • Liabilities & Risk Management Overview
    It’s crucial for nonprofits to manage their debts and obligations responsibly. The balance sheet provides clear insights into current and long-term liabilities, allowing organizations to strategize repayments or renegotiate terms if necessary.
  • Donor Confidence & Stakeholder Transparency
    Donors and grantors want to ensure their contributions are being used wisely. A well-maintained balance sheet indicates financial responsibility, which can boost confidence and potentially lead to increased future funding.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Necessities
    Is there In many jurisdictions, nonprofits are required to maintain updated balance sheets and may need to submit them to regulatory agencies to retain their tax-exempt status or qualify for specific grants.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making
    With insights from the nonprofit balance sheet, nonprofit leaders can make better-informed decisions, be it for budgeting, investments, or launching new programs. They can assess whether they have the necessary funds or if there are too many liabilities to take on additional projects

What is Included in the Nonprofit Balance Sheet?


These are resources that the nonprofit owns or controls, which are expected to provide future economic benefits. There are two categories of assets, Current and Non-Current. 

Current Assets: Assets that are expected to be used up or converted into cash within a year or the organization’s operating cycle, whichever is longer.

  • Cash and Cash Equivalents: Includes cash on hand, in banks, and short-term investments with an original maturity of three months or less.
  • Accounts Receivable: Amounts owed to the nonprofit, which could be from pledges, grants, or other sources.
  • Inventory: If the nonprofit has items for sale or distribution.
  • Prepaid Expenses: Payments made in advance for goods or services to be received in the future.

Non-Current Assets: Assets that have a longer-term use or benefit for the organization.

  • Investments: Stocks, bonds, or other long-term investments.
  • Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E): Land, buildings, equipment, and vehicles owned by the nonprofit, often reported net of accumulated depreciation.
  • Intangible Assets: Non-physical assets like copyrights, trademarks, or patents, if any.
  • Other Long-Term Assets: Could include long-term receivables, deposits, or other similar items.


These represent the nonprofit’s obligations – amounts it owes to others.

Current Liabilities: Obligations due within a year or the organization’s operating cycle.

  • Accounts Payable: Amounts owed to suppliers for goods or services purchased.
  • Accrued Liabilities: Expenses that have been incurred but not yet paid, like salaries or taxes.
  • Deferred Revenue: Funds received in advance for services to be delivered or obligations to be met in the future.
  • Short-Term Loans or Notes Payable: Any borrowing due to be repaid within a year.

Non-Current Liabilities: Obligations that are due beyond a year.

  • Long-Term Loans or Notes Payable: Borrowings or debts due after one year.
  • Other Long-Term Liabilities: Could include items like deferred tax liabilities or long-term lease obligations.

Net Assets

The difference between assets and liabilities, essentially the equity of the nonprofit. Unlike for-profits, nonprofits don’t have owners, so instead of “equity,” they have “net assets.” For this reason, the nonprofit balance sheet is often referred to as the Statement of Financial Position.

  1. Unrestricted Net Assets: Funds that are not restricted to a specific purpose by donors and can be used at the organization’s discretion.
  2. Temporarily Restricted Net Assets: Funds that are earmarked by donors for a particular purpose or time period. Once the purpose is fulfilled or the time restriction lapses, these typically get reclassified to unrestricted net assets.
  3. Permanently Restricted Net Assets: Funds where the principal amount is required to be maintained indefinitely, often seen with endowments. Only the income or interest from these funds can typically be used, and often for a specific purpose.

Nonprofit Balance Sheet Template

Statement of Financial Position or Nonprofit balance Sheet Example<br />

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Nonprofit Balance Sheet

Step 1: Gather the necessary financial information

To construct an accurate and effective balance sheet, it’s essential to gather comprehensive financial data about your nonprofit’s assets, liabilities, and net assets. Here’s some guidance on streamlining this process:

  1. Financial Documents: Start by collecting all relevant financial documents, including your Chart of Accounts, Statement of Functional Expenses, and Statement of Activities. You should also look for bank statements, invoices, loan agreements, and any other documents related to your assets and liabilities.
  2. Check Your Ledger: Look at your main money list (called a general ledger or trial balance) which shows all your account details. Make sure it’s current and everything matches.
  3. Pledges and Grants Receivable: Keep a record of all outstanding pledges, grants, or other amounts owed to your nonprofit, including their expected receipt dates.
  4. Depreciation and Amortization: For long-term assets like buildings and equipment, you need to account for depreciation and for intangible assets, consider amortization. Ensure you have updated depreciation and amortization schedules.
  5. Restricted Funds: Have a clear understanding of all donor-restricted funds, including their specific terms and any expiration dates for those restrictions.

Step 2: Format the Nonprofit Balance Sheet

Organizing your balance sheet data in a clear and comprehensible manner is vital for effective financial communication. Here’s how you can format your nonprofit’s balance sheet:

  • Title: Start with a clear title at the top, such as “Statement of Financial Position” followed by the name of your nonprofit. Below that, indicate the specific date of the statement, emphasizing that the balance sheet represents a snapshot of that particular day.
  • Assets Section:
    • Current Assets: List these first, starting with the most liquid (e.g., Cash and Cash Equivalents) followed by Accounts Receivable, Inventory, and Prepaid Expenses.
    • Non-Current Assets: Follow with your long-term assets, like Property, Plant, and Equipment, then Investments, and any other long-term assets. Make sure to show accumulated depreciation as a deduction from relevant assets.
  • Liabilities Section:
    • Current Liabilities: List short-term obligations, starting with Accounts Payable, followed by other short-term liabilities.
    • Non-Current Liabilities: Then detail your long-term obligations like Long-Term Loans and other long-term liabilities.
  • Net Assests Section:
    • Organize by restriction type: Unrestricted, Temporarily Restricted, and Permanently Restricted.

Organization Tips:

  • Subtotals: Provide subtotals for Current Assets, Non-Current Assets, Current Liabilities, and Non-Current Liabilities for clarity.
  • Clarity and Consistency: Use clear headings, consistent font styles, and spacing. Bold or underline subtotals and total amounts to make them stand out.
  • Footnotes: Consider adding footnotes for any additional information or explanations that might aid the reader’s understanding, especially around donor restrictions or unique financial instruments.

Step 3: Review and Validate Your Balance Sheet

Before finalizing your balance sheet, it’s crucial to ensure accuracy and clarity.

  • Cross-check Numbers: Verify all figures on your balance sheet against the original sources, ensuring no data entry errors. It’s essential to double-check high-value items or any numbers that seem out of the ordinary.
  • Reconciliation: Cross-reference your balance sheet with other financial statements, such as the income statement or cash flow statement, to ensure the figures align. If there’s a discrepancy, identify and rectify the source of the error.
  • Internal Review: Have a different team member, preferably someone well-versed in finance or accounting, review the balance sheet. A fresh set of eyes can often spot errors or inconsistencies that might have been overlooked.
  • Clarify Complex Items: For any complex or unique financial transactions, consider adding explanations directly on the balance sheet or in footnotes. This will help stakeholders better understand the financial state of the nonprofit.
  • Review Restrictions: Ensure that all donor-imposed restrictions are correctly represented and that funds are accurately categorized as unrestricted, temporarily restricted, or permanently restricted.
  • Final Validation: Once everything looks in order, it might be beneficial to have the balance sheet reviewed by a certified accountant or financial advisor. This can add an extra layer of credibility, especially for larger nonprofits or when presenting to significant donors or regulatory bodies.

Analyzing Your Organization’s Financial Health using the Nonprofit Balance Sheet

The balance sheet is a powerful tool that provides a snapshot of your nonprofit’s financial position at a specific point in time. But beyond the numbers and categories, how can it help determine the financial health of your organization? 

Assessing Your Organization’s Financial Health Using the Balance Sheet

  • Liquidity Analysis: Check the Current and Quick Ratios. A ratio above 1 suggests healthy short-term financial status, but too high might indicate underutilized funds.
  • Solvency: Use the Debt-to-Asset Ratio to understand dependency on external financing.
  • Net Assets Review: A stable Unrestricted Net Assets amount suggests resilience. Also, understand the balance between Temporarily and Permanently Restricted assets.
  • Fixed Asset Efficiency: The Fixed Asset Turnover Ratio provides insights on operational efficiency.
  • Growth Trends: Use comparative analysis over periods for insights on growth or decline.
  • Red Flags: Watch out for consistently high current liabilities or a decline in net assets.
  • Reserve Analysis: Determine how many months of operations your reserves can support.
  • Funds Utilization: Aim for a balance between conservative financial management and growth opportunities.
  • Benchmarking: Compare your data with peer organizations for a broader perspective.

What Financial Challenges Can You Identify from a Nonprofit Balance Sheet?

Analyzing a nonprofit’s balance sheet can shed light on various financial challenges that may not be apparent at first glance. By recognizing these challenges early, you can take proactive measures to navigate them. Below are some of the common issues nonprofits may encounter based on balance sheet scrutiny, along with recommended strategies for tackling them.

  1. Insufficient Liquidity
    • Challenge: If your current assets are consistently lower than your current liabilities, your nonprofit might struggle with short-term financial obligations.
    • Strategy: Diversify revenue streams, accelerate invoicing and collection processes, and review expenses to find cost-saving opportunities. Establishing a line of credit can also provide a buffer in tight liquidity situations.
  2. Over-reliance on Restricted Funds
    • Challenge: A high proportion of restricted assets can hinder operational flexibility, especially if there’s a sudden need for unrestricted funds.
    • Strategy: Engage with donors to negotiate more flexible terms or seek new donations with fewer restrictions. Also, ensure that financial planning accounts for these restrictions to avoid shortfalls.
  3. High Fixed Costs
    • Challenge: A large amount of fixed assets (like properties or large equipment) can lead to high maintenance costs and depreciation, tying up funds that could be used elsewhere.
    • Strategy: Regularly review the utility of all fixed assets. Consider leasing instead of buying or exploring shared resource agreements with other nonprofits to reduce fixed costs.
  4. Growing Debts
    • Challenge: Increasing liabilities over time without a corresponding growth in assets can signal mounting debts that may become unsustainable.
    • Strategy: Refinance existing debts to more favorable terms, consolidate loans where possible, and explore grant opportunities specifically aimed at debt reduction.
  5. Declining or Stagnant Reserves
    • Challenge: An organization’s reserves are its safety net. If they’re declining or not growing in line with its scale, it may struggle during financial downturns.
    • Strategy: Establish a reserve fund policy that dictates a certain percentage of annual surpluses or unrestricted donations be allocated to reserves.
  6. Over-reliance on a Single Revenue Source
    • Challenge: Heavy dependency on one revenue stream, such as a single grant, poses a risk if that funding source dries up.
    • Strategy: Seek to diversify funding sources. This can include events, membership fees, online campaigns, partnerships, and exploring new grant opportunities.

Recognizing and addressing these financial challenges ensures your nonprofit remains agile, resilient, and equipped to continue its mission effectively. Periodic balance sheet analysis, combined with proactive strategies, will keep your organization on the path of sustainable growth and impact.

Key Takeaways

  • A nonprofit balance sheet provides a snapshot of an organization’s assets, liabilities, and net assets at a given point in time.
  • Regularly analyzing your balance sheet can help detect potential financial challenges and allow for informed strategic decisions.
  • Adhering to the established reporting requirements is not just a legal mandate but also fosters trust among donors, beneficiaries, and stakeholders.
  • Using comprehensive tools like the provided template and guide can significantly enhance the accuracy and clarity of your financial reporting.

Understanding and effectively presenting the financial health of a nonprofit is no small feat. This guide has shed light on the fundamental aspects of a nonprofit balance sheet, its distinction from other financial statements, and its vital role in reflecting an organization’s fiscal position. We’ve delved into the intricacies of financial challenges that can be identified from the balance sheet, offering strategies for proactive mitigation. Furthermore, the article highlighted the stringent reporting requirements that nonprofits must adhere to for maintaining transparency and accountability.

While templates and guides like ours can be incredibly helpful, each nonprofit has its unique challenges, missions, and operations. Thus, for a tailored approach to your financial landscape, we strongly recommend consulting with a nonprofit CPA. Their expertise can offer personalized guidance, ensuring that your organization not only remains compliant but thrives in its mission to make a difference.

Need help preparing a nonprofit balance sheet?

Tyler Wilcox, CPA

Tyler’s extensive background in accounting, tax, and financial consulting set the foundation for Velu’s outsourced accounting solutions for nonprofits and small businesses. As a fractional CFO, he goes beyond routine duties, guiding organizations with strategic insights for sound financial decisions. Velu’s services address the unique challenges faced by nonprofits and small businesses, fostering sustainable growth. Tyler places great emphasis on meticulous attention to detail in financial record-keeping, implementing efficient systems to ensure transparency and streamline operations.

Learn more about Tyler and the Velu team on our About Us page. We’re excited to connect with you!