As calendar-year-end nonprofits have worked through the implementation of Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-14, Notfor-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities, we have seen quite a bit of diversity in the preparation of the liquidity and availability disclosure required by the ASU.
To improve the ability of financial statement users to assess a nonprofit entity’s available financial resources and the methods by which it manages liquidity and liquidity risk, the ASU requires specific disclosures including:
- Qualitative information that communicates how a nonprofit entity manages its liquid available resources to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the statement of financial position (balance sheet) date
- Quantitative information that communicates the availability of a nonprofit’s financial assets to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the statement of financial position date. Items that should be taken into consideration in this analysis are whether the availability of a financial asset is affected by its (1) nature, (2) external limits imposed by grantors, donors, laws and contracts with others, and (3) internal limits imposed by governing board decisions
The following information can be displayed either on the face of the statement of financial position, or in the notes to the financial statements, unless otherwise required to be on the face of the statement of financial position:
- Relevant information about the nature and amount of limitations on the use of cash and cash equivalents (such as cash held on deposit as a compensating balance)
- Contractual limitations on the use of particular assets. These include, for example, restricted cash or other assets set aside under debt agreements, assets set aside under collateral arrangements or assets set aside to satisfy reserve requirements that states may impose under charitable gift annuity arrangements
- Quantitative information and additional qualitative information in the notes, as necessary, about the availability of a nonprofit’s financial assets at the statement of financial position date
An entity can provide additional information about liquidity in any of the following ways:
- Sequencing assets according to their nearness of conversion to cash and sequencing liabilities according to the nearness of their maturity and resulting use of cash
- Classifying assets and liabilities as current and non-current
- Disclosing in the notes to financial statements any additional relevant information about the liquidity or maturity of assets or liabilities, including restrictions on the use of particular assets
Liquidity is defined in the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Master Glossary as “an asset’s or liability’s nearness to cash. Donor-imposed restrictions may influence the liquidity or cash flow patterns of certain assets. For example, a donor stipulation that donated cash be used to acquire land and buildings limits an entity’s ability to take effective actions to respond to unexpected opportunities or needs, such as emergency disaster relief. On the other hand, some donor-imposed restrictions have little or no influence on cash flow patterns or an entity’s financial flexibility. For example, a gift of cash with a donor stipulation that it be used for emergency-relief efforts has a negligible impact on an entity if emergency relief is one of its major programs.”
Based on this definition, an entity will have to carefully look at its assets and consider any donor-imposed restrictions that may exist when determining the presentation of liquidity.
A simple measure of liquidity per the ASU is the availability of resources to meet cash needs for general expenditures within one year of the date of the statement of financial position. The ASU does not define general expenditures but does provide some suggestions regarding limitations that would preclude financial assets from being available for general expenditures. Some of these items noted in the ASU include:
- Donor restrictions on the use of assets for particular programs or activities
- Donor restrictions on the time period in which assets are used
- Board designations that commit certain assets to a particular purpose
- Loan covenants that require certain reserves or collateralized assets to be kept on hand
- Compensating deposit balances required by financial institutions
To provide the liquidity and availability disclosure, entities should likely consider combining both a narrative description of their method for managing revenue with donor restrictions and a table that lists the dollar amounts expected to be released from various sources. Entities should develop a liquidity management program that allows them to determine what portions of donor restricted funds will be released from restriction and available for both direct program costs as well as shared expenses that support those programs.
In addition, entities should have a program in place to assess what resources are available. These should only include the portion of funding commitments that are expected to be received in the next year. To assist in this determination, as well as the overall liquidity management, entities should consider utilizing a rolling cash flow projection that covers at least a 12-month period.
Entities should also provide, in the qualitative component of the disclosure, information about other methods they use to manage liquidity and maintain financial flexibility. Examples of these could include:
- The use of lines of credit
- Established operating reserve policies
- Cash management process
It is important to develop this disclosure to present an accurate picture of the liquidity and availability of resources utilizing both financial information and supporting narrative to fully explain the financial health of the organization.
This article originally appeared in BDO USA, LLP’s “Nonprofit Standards” newsletter (Summer 2019). Copyright © 2019 BDO USA, LLP. All rights reserved. www.bdo.com.