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3 Accounting Tips for Nonprofits After a Fundraiser

Posted Jul 17, 2023 01:15 PM
Your nonprofit’s fundraising events serve a myriad of purposes, from building relationships with donors to spreading awareness for your cause. But, primarily, your events aim to raise money.

However, to host an event, you’ll have to spend money, too. When it’s all said and done, your nonprofit will be left with a long list of financial transactions to compare against your event budget. To help with your financial fundraising follow-up, let’s review three accounting tips.

Reconcile your event expenses

At the beginning of the event planning process, you've likely incurred some costs, such as renting a venue, purchasing event management software, or spending on promotional efforts.

Start the reconciliation process by compiling every expense associated with your fundraiser. Track the following information about each expense:

  • The cost, or the exact amount that your nonprofit paid.
  • The good or service, which refers to the actual resource your nonprofit purchased.
  • The source of the expense, or the entity your nonprofit paid.
  • The purchase date, and any subsequent payment dates if you paid in installments.

Reconciliation allows your organization to confirm the accuracy of its records and ensure you were charged the correct amount for each purchase. That’s why it’s crucial that you keep track of every receipt for each purchase you make, whether you made purchases for an online fundraiser or an in-person event.

Check the details you’ve recorded about each purchase against the receipts you’ve collected. Be sure to keep your records consolidated. For example, if you’re compiling expense records digitally but have a physical receipt, scan the receipt to create a digital copy and keep everything in the same place.

Document in-kind donations

In-kind donations are non-monetary contributions made to you. The following in-kind gifts can help lower the cost of hosting a fundraising event:

  • Goods: Any items or products you receive as a donation can be considered goods, such as items for a fundraising auction that were contributed for free. ClickBid’s guide to silent auction planning suggests creating a wishlist for the items you’d like for your event and sending it to board members, major donors, and corporate sponsors to ask for specific donations.
  • Services: Some corporate sponsors or community partners might contribute services for your event at no cost. For example, a graphic designer may create marketing materials for your fundraiser as a charitable donation.
  • Intangible property: If the opportunity arises, other donors may contribute intangible property to your nonprofit, such as patents or intellectual property. For example, a university professor might donate their lecture materials on food insecurity to your organization. You might use data from this intellectual property to create a presentation for your event that educates the audience on the need for your mission’s work.

To maintain accurate records, it’s important to categorize each donation you receive by type. Be sure to keep your records of in-kind donations separate from monetary donations so that you have a clear understanding of everything you received during your fundraiser.

With this data, you’ll know about more potential donors when you consider the non-monetary contributions given for your fundraiser. For example, some supporters might be unable to donate financially but would be perfectly happy to serve as a fundraising ambassador to raise support from their peers.

Prepare an event report

As a nonprofit leader, you likely know how to file Form 990, which involves keeping detailed records of your finances and activities. But did you know you can better prepare for this annual responsibility by creating a post-event report after each fundraiser?

A post-event report summarizes the performance of your event by compiling all your event data, including:

  • The total cost of the event
  • The difference between the event’s cost and your budget
  • Number of registrants
  • Number of attendees
  • Degree of attendee participation
  • Attendee demographics
  • Names of people or entities that donated
  • Number of donations made
  • Dollar amount of event revenue

The financial details you capture in your report will empower you to accurately and easily file your Form 990 at the end of the fiscal year. As an added bonus, you’ll have better insight into your nonprofit’s financial position after your fundraiser.

For example, did you spend more or less than your allotted budget on event planning? Did you meet your fundraising goals? Observe things like the degree of participation from attendees to determine how successfully you engaged your supporters.

Using this information, your team can adjust its approach to its next fundraiser. Even when your fundraising goals change, you’ll know how to minimize event costs and maximize revenue!