Not- for- Profit’ Organizations! Its meaning and Characteristics explained

There are certain organizations which are set up for providing service to its members and the public in general. Such organizations include clubs, charitable institutions, schools, religious organizations, trade unions, welfare societies and societies for the promotion of art and culture. These organizations have service as the main objective and not the profit as is the case of organizations in business. Normally, these organizations do not undertake any business activity, and are managed by trustees who are fully accountable to their members and the society for the utilization of the funds raised for meeting the objectives of the organisation.

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Hence, they also have to maintain proper accounts and prepare the financial statement which take the form of Receipt and Payment Account; Income and Expenditure Account; and Balance Sheet. at the end of for every accounting period (normally a financial year). This is also a legal requirement and helps them to keep track of their income and expenditure, the nature of which is different from those of the business organizations. In this chapter we shall learn about the accounting aspects relating to not-for-profit organisation.

Meaning and Characteristics

Not-for -Profit Organizations refer to the organizations that are for used for the welfare of the society and are set up as charitable institutions which function without any profit motive. Their main aim is to provide service to a specific group or the public at large. Normally, they do not manufacture, purchase or sell goods and may not have credit transactions. Hence they need not maintain many books of account (as the trading concerns do) and Trading and Profit and Loss Account. The funds raised by such organizations are credited to capital fund or general fund. The major sources of their income usually are subscriptions from their members donations, grants-in-aid, income from investments, etc. The main objective of keeping records in such organizations is to meet the statutory requirement and help them in exercising control over utilization of their funds. They also have to prepare the financial statements at the end of each accounting period (usually a financial year) and ascertain their income and expenditure and the financial position, and submit them to the statutory authority called Registrar of Societies.

The main characteristics of such organizations are:

1. Such organizations are formed for providing service to a specific group or public at large such as education, health care, recreation, sports and so on without any consideration of caste, creed and color. Its sole aim is to provide service either free of cost or at nominal cost, and not to earn profit.


2. These are organized as charitable trusts/societies and subscribers to such organization are called members.

3. Their affairs are usually managed by a managing/executive committee elected by its members.

4. The main sources of income of such organizations are: (i) subscriptions from members, (ii) donations, (iii) legacies, (iv) grant-in-aid, (v) income from investments, etc.


5. The funds raised by such organizations through various sources are credited to capital fund or general fund.

6. The surplus generated in the form of excess of income over expenditure is not distributed amongst the members. It is simply added in the capital fund.

7. The Not-for-Profit Organizations earn their reputation on the basis of their contributions to the welfare of the society rather than on the customers’ or owners’ satisfaction.

8. The accounting information provided by such organizations is meant for the present and potential contributors and to meet the statutory requirement.

Accounting Records of Not-for-Profit Organizations

As stated earlier, normally such organizations are not engaged in any trading or business activities. The main sources of their income are subscriptions from members, donations, financial assistance from government and income from investments. Most of their transactions are in cash or through the bank. These institutions are required by law to keep proper accounting records and keep proper control over the utilization of their funds. This is why they usually keep a cash book in which all receipts and payments are duly recorded.


They also maintain a ledger containing the accounts of all incomes, expenses, assets and liabilities which facilitates the preparation of financial statements at the end of the accounting period. In addition, they are required to maintain a stock register to keep complete record of all fixed assets and the consumables. They do not maintain any capital account. Instead they maintain capital fund which is also called general fund that goes on accumulating due to surpluses generated, life membership fee, donation, legacies, etc. received from year to year. In fact, a proper system of accounting is desirable to avoid or minimize the chances of misappropriations or embezzlement of the funds contributed by the members and other donors.

Final Accounts or Financial Statements:

The Not-for-Profit Organizations are also required to prepare financial statements at the end of the each accounting period. Although these organizations are non-profit making entities and they are not required to make Trading and Profit & Loss Account but it is necessary to know whether the income during the year was sufficient to meet the expenses or not. Not only that they have to provide the necessary financial information to members, donors, and contributors and also to the Registrar of Societies. For this purpose, they have to prepare their final accounts at the end of the accounting period and the general principles of accounting are fully applicable in their preparation as stated earlier, the final accounts of a ‘not-for-profit organisation’ consist of the following:

(i) Receipt and Payment Account

(ii) Income and Expenditure Account, and

(iii) Balance Sheet.

The Receipt and Payment Account is the summary of cash and bank transactions which helps in the preparation of Income and Expenditure Account and the Balance Sheet. Besides, it is a legal requirement as the Receipts and Payments Account has also to be submitted to the Registrar of Societies along with the Income and Expenditure Account, and the Balance Sheet. Income and Expenditure Account is akin to Profit and Loss Account.

The Not-for-Profit Organizations usually prepare the Income and Expenditure Account and a Balance Sheet with the help of Receipt and Payment Account. However, this does not imply that they do not make a trial balance. In order to check the accuracy of the ledger accounts, they also prepare a trial balance which facilitates the preparation of accurate Receipt and Payment Account as well as the Income and Expenditure Account and the Balance Sheet. In fact, if an organization has followed the double entry system they must prepare a trial balance for checking the accuracy of the ledger accounts and it will also facilitate the preparation of Receipt and Payment account. Income and Expenditure Account and the Balance Sheet.

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