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How can nonprofits use bookkeeping for financial planning in 2024?

Posted on 06/05/2024

Define bookkeeping and its function in nonprofits.

Bookkeeping is an important aspect of nonprofits. It entails keeping meticulous records of all financial transactions. Bookkeeping helps to keep financial records accurate and up to date. By tracking income and expenses, bookkeeping provides a clear financial picture. You can use this knowledge to make well-informed business decisions.

Proper bookkeeping helps to ensure that tax regulations and financial reporting requirements are met. It aids in identifying potential areas for cost savings and revenue generation. Bookkeeping serves as the foundation for creating financial statements and reports. It allows business owners to track the financial health of their non-profit operations. Bookkeeping is critical to the day-to-day financial management of nonprofit organizations. Financial transparency and accountability would be difficult to maintain if bookkeeping was not efficient.

Overall, bookkeeping is critical in nonprofits due to its role in ensuring financial stability and sound business operations.

Essential bookkeeping concepts and principles

Bookkeeping is an essential part of managing finances for businesses and individuals. Understanding key principles and concepts is critical for keeping accurate financial records and making sound decisions. Here are the key principles and concepts in bookkeeping:

  • Double-entry bookkeeping.

Every financial transaction involves at least two accounts: a debit and a credit.

Total debits must equal total credits to keep the accounting equation (Assets = Liabilities + Equity) balanced.

  • Chart of accounts.

A comprehensive list of all the accounts used to categorize financial transactions.

Accounts are usually divided into categories such as assets, liabilities, equity, revenue, and expenses.

  • Debit and Credit

Debits reflect increases in assets and expenses, as well as decreases in liabilities and equity.

Credits signify a decrease in assets and expenses and an increase in liabilities and equity.

  • The accounting equation.

Assets: Resources that belong to a business or person.

Liabilities are debts and obligations owed by a business or individual.

Equity refers to the owner’s or shareholders’ interest in the business’s assets.

  • Financial statements.

Income Statement: A summary of revenues and expenses that determines net income or loss for a given period.

The balance sheet provides a snapshot of the company’s financial position, including assets, liabilities, and equity.

Cash Flow Statement: Analyzes cash inflows and outflows to determine liquidity and operating activities.

  • Accrual vs cash basis

Accrual basis: Transactions are recorded as they occur, regardless of cash flow.

Cash basis: Transactions are recorded only when cash is received or paid.

  • Recording Transactions

A journal entry is the initial record of a transaction before it is posted to individual accounts.

The general ledger is a collection of all individual accounts used in the company’s financial records.

  • Adjusting Entries

Made at the end of an accounting period to reflect accrued revenues or expenses that have yet to be recorded.

  • Trial Balance.

Summarizes all account balances to ensure that total debits equal total credits.

  • Depreciation

Allocating the cost of tangible assets over their useful lives so that expenses match revenue.

  • Bank Reconciliation

To identify discrepancies, compare and reconcile the company’s records with its bank statement.

  • Internal Controls.

Implemented procedures and policies to protect assets, prevent fraud, and ensure financial reporting accuracy.

  • Consistency and Materiality.

Consistency is the application of the same accounting principles and methods over time.

Materiality: Concentrating on important financial information while ignoring insignificant details.

  • Auditing

Independent auditors examine and verify financial records.

Setting Up Bookkeeping Systems for Nonprofits

Choosing the Right Bookkeeping Method for Nonprofits

Bookkeeping is required for any business to keep accurate financial records.

Different industries have distinct financial requirements, making it critical to choose the appropriate bookkeeping method. Let’s look at the factors to consider when selecting a bookkeeping method for nonprofits.

Understanding your industry’s financial needs:

  • Begin by determining the specific financial needs of non-profits.
  • Determine the typical transactions, revenue sources, and expenses in the industry.

The Difference Between Accrual and Cash Basis Accounting:

  • Select between the accounting methods of accrual and cash basis.
  • Accrual: Records transactions as they occur, resulting in a more accurate long-term financial picture.
  • Cash Basis: Records transactions when money changes hands, providing a real-time view of cash flow.

Software Solutions:

  • Look into bookkeeping software designed specifically for nonprofits.
  • Consider features like inventory management, project tracking, and industry-specific reporting.

In-House Versus Outsourced Bookkeeping:

  • Determine whether your company should do bookkeeping in-house or outsource it.
  • In-house: Increased control and direct access to financial data.
  • Outsourcing provides professional expertise as well as time-saving benefits.

Consider Industry Regulations:

  • Investigate the financial regulations and compliance requirements applicable to nonprofits.
  • Ensure that your chosen bookkeeping method complies with these regulations.

Essential tools and software for nonprofit bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is an important aspect of nonprofit businesses for managing finances efficiently and keeping accurate records. There are several essential tools and software available to help streamline the bookkeeping process and improve productivity.


  • Mesha is powerful and user-friendly bookkeeping software tailored specifically to nonprofit professionals.
  • It has a variety of features, such as invoicing, expense tracking, and financial reporting.
  • Mesha’s intuitive interface makes it simple for users to organize financial data and track cash flow.
  • The software’s automation capabilities save time by handling repetitive tasks and data entry.


  • Quickbooks is a popular bookkeeping software that is suitable for businesses of all sizes, including nonprofit enterprises.
  • It offers comprehensive financial management tools such as invoicing, payroll processing, and bank reconciliation.
  • QuickBooks allows users to create detailed financial reports and track expenses in real-time.
  • Its user-friendly platform allows for seamless integration with other business applications and simplifies collaboration with accountants.


  • Xero is another popular bookkeeping software that is tailored to the needs of nonprofit businesses.
  • It provides cloud-based solutions that allow access to financial data from anywhere at any time.
  • Xero’s collaborative features allow for seamless communication between team members and accountants.
  • The software also supports multi-currency transactions, making it ideal for businesses that operate internationally

Topics: Non Profit Organization




About the Author:

Pramod has over 11 years of experience relating to finance and accounts in diversified industries. He is an expert in resource and process optimization resulting in greater operational efficiencies.

Author can be reached at [email protected]

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