In September 2017, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy launched the International Not-for-Profit Platform. This platform presents national guidance on financial reporting standards in one location. This resource can be a great tool for accountants who help non-profits develop business plans and financial projections.
What is the Aim of CIPFA’s New Platform?
This publicly-accessible online platform was developed for the International Forum of Accounting Standard Setters Not-for-Profit Working Group. It enables, for the first time, users to compare not-for-profit accounting and reporting methods from different countries. It details various jurisdictions’ not-for-profit reporting standards, provides updates on their progress, and allows areas of difficulty within not-for-profit accounting to be compared side-by-side. It aims to help improve the understanding of the different methods of not-for-profit accounting by allowing accountants to see how common issues faced by not-for-profits are approached and accounted for in different parts of the world.
What Information Does the Platform Include?
At the time of writing, the platform is still partially under development by the IFASS so the scope of the platform may increase over time. As of the initial release, the platform includes information on reporting and regulatory frameworks such as financial reporting standards for not-for-profit organizations. The platform details existing standards, the scope of these standards, and how they are evolving. It also includes examples of not-for-profit reporting as well as information regarding the regulation of these entities.
Additionally, the platform discusses current and common issues faced by not-for-profits around the world. One big area covered is accounting for non-exchange transactions. This area includes information on requirements related to accounting for volunteer time, accounting for donations of non-monetary assets for resale, and accounting for donated assets. Other items include how to account for donor stipulations on revenue spending, accounting for future time periods, and when to recognize income from a legacy or trust donated by an individual.
How Can the Platform Help Accountants?
Th International Not-for-Profit Platform should help accountants learn from each other and help develop quality reporting standards across the international community. Accountants who are standard setters, regulators, or end-users of financial statements as well as those who work in a not-for-profit setting can benefit from having all of this diverse information in one place. Namely, this platform can save time since it is likely to become the primary place to look for not-for-profit accounting information. Beyond saving time, accountants on a small budget may also save money by accessing this free information directly instead of having to hire outside help, such as consultants or lawyers, to find the information. On top of that, organizations or accounting firms can reduce payroll hours, as they can avoid paying employees to locate information from obscure sources that take hours to find.
Not-for-profit accounting is gaining more attention around the world. In a simple sense, this platform should allow accountants all over the world to do more with less resources. Ultimately, this enables accountants to redirect their efforts and time to more important tasks for their clients or their employers.