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GSN486 Accounting issues for philanthropic and nonprofit organisations Course Co-ordinator: Dawn Butler Contact info: [email protected] ; 3864 9298 Lecturers: Ted Flack and Pat Hoiberg Accounting for NPOs Nonprofit organisations (NPOs) have unique accounting issues and transactions.

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GSN486Accounting issues for philanthropic and nonprofit organisations

Course Co-ordinator: Dawn Butler

Contact info: [email protected]; 3864 9298

Lecturers: Ted Flack and Pat Hoiberg


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Accounting for NPOs

Nonprofit organisations (NPOs) have unique accounting issues and transactions.

But there are inadequate accounting standards to deal with these transactions. Because of the lack of accounting standards, NPO financial reporting contains many inconsistencies and incompatibilities.

NPO financial reports, therefore, are evaluated within the framework of existing accounting standards, which are written for profit (or govt) organisations – and which do not accurately reflect NPO activities and achievements.


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Approach in course

  • Don’t worry! Many accounting courses start with debits and credits!

  • This course doesn’t do that. It goes in at a much higher level, and concentrates on financial reports of NPOs.

  • By the end of the course, you’ll have expertise in reading and interpreting annual financial reports. You’ll be able to assess the financial position and financial performance of any NPO.


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What’s special about accounting for NPOs?

  • Some of the specific problems that are faced by NPOs include:

    • fund accounting;

    • accounting for government grants;

    • accounting for donations, donations in kind and donated assets;

    • accounting for pledges;

    • accounting for volunteer time; and

    • depreciation (of donated assets).


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Queensland NPO Chart of Accounts

Over the past two years, QUT/CPNS has made a special contribution to NPO accounting in Australia. So we can claim a special expertise.

We have developed a Chart of Accounts for small and medium sized NPOs. This work was done in collaboration with Queensland Treasury, five major government departments, and a number of NPO accounting practitioners.


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Queensland NPO Chart of Accounts

The Chart of Accounts has been specially developed for NPOs who receive government funding to perform social services.

Each government department has its own requirements, and its own categories to be reported on.

Some NPOs have multiple accountabilities. There is at least one NPO which has to report on 37 grants from different government departments. They complain that they spend their time reporting – rather than providing services!

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Queensland NPO Chart of Accounts

What’s in the Chart of Accounts ?

  • It simplifies and standardises categories for financial records,

  • It includes a “data dictionary”,

  • It provides references to Accounting Standards where relevant,

  • It allows for the latest legislation and regulations.

    The Chart will simplify the process of acquitting government grants, and will also improve the accountability of NPOs.

    It has been welcomed by both government departments and the nonprofit sector.


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GSN486 outcomes

  • By the end of the GSN486 course, you’ll be able to judge the value of Queensland NPO Chart of Accounts.

  • You’ll know more about problems and suggested solutions for the accounting treatment of financial activities of NPOs.

  • This will enhance your contribution to your own organisation in planning, decision making, and – importantly – being accountable.


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