Learn more about nonprofit bookkeeping and how it is used to help organizations like yours.

Nonprofit Bookkeeping – Nonprofit Catalog

Your nonprofit works hard to raise money effectively and efficiently, so your fundraising team is often knee-deep in the process of finding new revenue streams. But what happens after those monies are acquired? How do you keep track of it all? Financial management is an essential part of your ability to fund your nonprofit’s mission, and it all starts with bookkeeping.

What Is Nonprofit Accounting?

Nonprofit bookkeeping is the process of inputting and organizing your nonprofit’s financial data. When your nonprofit makes money through fundraising, investing, or other strategies, your bookkeeper is the one to input the information about that money into your accounting system and ensure it’s labeled and allocated correctly. 

When your nonprofit registered to be a 501(c)(3) organization, you received tax-exempt status. But you also agreed as a part of that registration that you would ensure a high level of transparency regarding your finances in order to maintain that status with the IRS. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure your funding is recorded properly—a task that falls directly on your bookkeeper. 

At many smaller organizations, the job of bookkeeping falls largely on executive directors or high-level staff members. This creates another hat for those professionals to wear in their work at the organization. Meanwhile, large organizations with more transactions to keep track of might hire a full-time bookkeeper to manage their day-to-day finances, although hiring can be expensive. The best in-between option for nonprofits is to outsource your bookkeeping and accounting needs to an experienced, nonprofit-specific firm. 

You might be asking, “Bookkeeping and accounting? Why do we need both? Aren’t they basically the same thing?” In short, no. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these commonly confused roles.

How are Bookkeeping and Accounting Different?

While often lumped together in one category, nonprofit bookkeeping and accounting are two distinct roles. Here are the main differences between the two:

Let’s examine the differences between nonprofit bookkeeping and accounting.

Nonprofit Bookkeeping

Nonprofit bookkeepers manage the day-to-day operational needs of an organization. This includes tasks like data entry, writing checks, and allocating expenses. Because it tends to be fairly administrative in nature, nonprofit bookkeepers don’t usually require specialized degrees or CPA certifications. However, this doesn’t mean the job is easy! Bookkeeping requires strong organizational skills to keep everything straight.

Nonprofit Accounting

Nonprofit accounting is like the big brother to bookkeeping. Accountants analyze your nonprofit’s financial data to determine the next steps that will help your organization reach its goals. This role requires a four-year degree and most people who occupy this position are CPA-certified. Accountants also reconcile your bank accounts, prepare your books for audits, compile and submit tax forms, and create your annual budget. 

Both of these roles are essential for your nonprofit to have effective financial management practices, but they’re often completed by two different people. This way, you’ll create stronger internal controls that help prevent fraud at your nonprofit.

What Does a Nonprofit Bookkeeper Do?

Your nonprofit bookkeeper’s duties are varied, but they may include tasks such as: 

  • Data entry. Basic data entry involves recording all of your nonprofit’s expenses, revenue, transactions, and other financial information in your dedicated accounting software or a spreadsheet. 
  • Writing checks and making bank deposits. When your nonprofit needs someone to go to the bank to deposit cash from in-person donations or to write the check for your water bill this month, you’ll call upon your nonprofit bookkeeper. 
  • Processing payroll. Larger organizations may rely on a separate HR department to process payroll, but small to mid-sized nonprofits often let this responsibility fall onto their nonprofit bookkeeper. 
  • Allocating expenses. Nonprofit bookkeepers are in charge of organizing the allocations for various organizational expenses. For example, they may allocate what expenses are dedicated to different programs, administrative costs, and fundraising campaigns.

As you can see, your nonprofit bookkeeper is primarily responsible for keeping all of your nonprofit’s financial information organized and ready to be acted upon. If your organization’s bookkeeping duties currently fall on your executive members of the team, consider if it’s worth it to designate a dedicated staff member or outsourced bookkeeper to help manage the responsibilities.

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog

Bookkeeping and Accounting Services for Nonprofits – Some organizations outsource their bookkeeping and accounting needs to organizations like Jitasa. Learn more about how this works and why it can benefit your nonprofit.

Year-End Giving – Your organization raises a lot of money at the end of the year. This guide will help you prepare to raise that funding and record it properly.

Labor unions are an important part of establishing working conditions in many industries.

What is a Labor Union? – Nonprofit Catalog

A labor union is a nonprofit coalition of workers in the same trade or industry. They are similar to associations, but unions are formed to protect workers’ rights and ensure that favorable conditions are maintained in the workplace. This happens through collective bargaining between the union representative and the employer. Union representatives often negotiate factors such as wages, benefits, schedules, safety, and job security on behalf of the workers. 

Unions are membership-based organizations. Usually, unions charge a small monthly membership fee that gets automatically deducted from their members’ paychecks. Members have a direct say and can vote on the issues that make it to the collective bargaining stage. Thus, workers who are represented by unions aren’t necessarily members of the union. 

Who’s involved with labor unions?

There are three important parties involved in labor unions. They are:

  • The workers. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 14 million union members in the United States as of 2021. That’s 12% of the full- and part-time workforce. ⅔ of union members are women and people of color, which means they are highly represented by unions relative to their population. 
  • The employers. These players are in managerial positions within companies represented by unions. 
  • The union representatives. Union representatives are often workers who bargain with employers to establish better working conditions. These representatives are elected from the 

These players work together to establish the atmosphere at work and address the concerns of the workers. 

Labor unions are extremely diverse groups of workers.

What industries have labor union representation?

Numerous industries have union representation. Industries with a significant union presence include:

  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Public administration
  • Public protective services (police officers and firefighters)
  • Education
  • Television and film production
  • Live entertainment
  • Construction
  • Healthcare

While these industries have more union representation on average, there are many other industries that are represented by unions. 

How are unions structured?

There are numerous sizes and scales of unions. Most national unions are part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The AFL-CIO also represents smaller unions at the state and local levels. That being said, many smaller unions aren’t part of the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO acts as an advocate for unions in the legislative process so unions are allowed to exist and achieve their goals across the country. Also, members of the AFL-CIO meet every four years, introducing them to other union delegates. This allows AFL-CIO members to learn from like-minded union members and adjust their collective bargaining approach.  

Whether they’re part of the AFL-CIO or are independent, nearly every national union has local members on a state- or city-wide scale. These representatives resolve grievances and issues within unionized work environments. 

Is union membership mandatory?

It depends on the state. 28 states are right-to-work states, meaning that union membership isn’t mandatory. The other 22 states do require union membership if the workplace is represented by one. 

Additional resources

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more about nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources. 

Tips for Recruiting the Next Generation of Union Workers – Are you a union manager looking for new, younger members? Learn how to recruit this valuable demographic in this guide. 

6 Tips: How to Manage and Retain Union Membership – Retaining your union’s membership is crucial for achieving your goals. Make your members want to stay by using this guide.