New Liquidity Disclosures for Not-for-Profit Organizations

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Not-for-Profit Organizations are facing new challenges as they begin to implement the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) financial reporting standards, ASU 2016-14, the Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities. The update affects Organizations with a calendar year-end of December 31, 2018 or a fiscal year-end in 2019. Whether you are an executive, board member, donor, or lender it is important to understand the results of implementation.

The new standard’s main purpose is to improve financial reporting by not-for-profit entities and allow the entity to better convey their story. While the ASU focuses on five main areas requiring changes in reporting or disclosures, one of the most challenging has been the new disclosures relating to the Organization’s liquidity and availability of assets.  

Required Disclosures

Under the new ASU, an Organization is now required to disclose the following:

  • Qualitative information on how the Organization manages its liquid resources available to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the balance sheet date.
  • Quantitative information that communicates the availability of financial assets to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the balance sheet date.

The availability of financial assets may be affected by the nature of the assets, external limits imposed by donors, laws and contracts with others, and internal limits (designations) imposed by the board.

Why is the change requiring this disclosure?

In summary, FASB believes the additional disclosure on liquidity and availability will increase transparency and promote a more thorough and accurate understanding of the Organization’s ability to fund its operations.

By doing so, the disclosure will assist users of the financial statements in evaluating whether the Organization has sufficient resources to meet financial obligations as they come due.

Qualitative Disclosures

The qualitative disclosure may include any of the following information:

  • Description of how availability of financial resources is determined
  • Description of how general expenditures are determined
  • Description of board designations and any operating or liquidity reserves
  • Policies for investing excess cash
  • Policies for spending from donor restricted and board designated endowment funds
  • Policies for drawing down on available lines of credit or reserves
  • Goals for maintain financial assets to be available for general expenditure

Quantitative Disclosure

The quantitative disclosure must report the detail of financial assets available to meet cash needs for general expenditures within the next twelve months. The disclosure may also be in the form of a table or reconciliation, which shows that the total financial assets less reconciling items equals financial assets on hand to meet one year of cash expenditures.

Reconciling items may include financial assets that are not available for general use because of:

  • Contractual restrictions
  • Donor-imposed restrictions
  • Board designations
  • Long-term investments

Next Steps – Be Proactive

Although coming up with a liquidity and availability disclosure may seem challenging, we recommend you consider taking the following steps to make this process easier to accomplish:

  • Determine the message your Organization wants to convey to readers of the financials
  • Share the Organization’s strategy for managing financial resources
  • Decide which presentation approach works best for your Organization
  • Review internal policies and procedures and consider any necessary revisions
  • Revisit existing donor and board designations and determine accuracy and relevancy
  • Evaluate any necessary internal accounting and reporting systems changes

The AICPA has provided several examples of the liquidity and availability disclosure. The examples take many forms depending on the type of Organization, the relative liquidity of the Organization’s resources, and whether there are any donor-imposed restrictions or internal board designations on financial resources.  The examples may help your Organization consider how you want to design your liquidity disclosure to enhance transparency and better tell your story.

Need More Help?

If you have any questions regarding the new liquidity and availability disclosures or any other not-for-profit industry topic, contact Sam Lazzara at slazzara@rgcocpa.com or any other member of the Rivero, Gordimer & Company not-for-profit engagement team at (813) 875-7774.

About the Author:

Sam A. Lazzara is a shareholder with Rivero, Gordimer & Company and has practiced accounting in the Tampa Bay area since 1986. Mr. Lazzara has considerable experience in auditing and taxation of not-for-profit Organizations and serves as the shareholder in charge of many of the Firm’s not-for-profit and governmental clients