Smart Charity

Understanding Ongoing Reporting Requirements for Nonprofits

Compliance Benefits: Sailing Toward Philanthropic Success

What if I told you, you could get in trouble for helping others? It might sound ridiculous, but it’s true. With every good thing, some bad guys will always try to take illegal benefits. And to stop such bad guys IRS has brought in regulations. 

To run a nonprofit or a charitable institution, founders must know how to map out their journey in the complicated maze of paperwork and compliance. The nonprofit is essential to society; helping others has made American society formidable. And compliance wants to see nonprofits continue helping others while also ensuring that entities posing as charitable do not exploit their status for profit-seeking purposes.

Decoding The IRS Form 990: Empowering Impactful Giving

Charitable nonprofits, which include charities, nonprofit organizations, religious groups, educational institutions, and others, are required by law to submit IRS Form 990. The IRS mainly seeks to know the organization’s operations, financials, and governance. And the receipts (revenue) of the charitable nonprofit organization decide what version of Form 990 the organization will submit. The details are mentioned below: 


Form to File

Gross receipts less than $50,000


Gross receipts less than $200,000 and Total assets less 

990-EZ or 990

Gross receipts of more than $200,000 or Total assets less than $500,000


Private foundation 


Form 990 or its versions requires organizations to disclose pertinent details, such as their mission and programs, financial statements, executive compensation, fundraising activities, and governing board composition. By filing Form 990, tax-exempt organizations demonstrate a commitment to transparency and accountability to the IRS and the public.

From the perspective of donors, Form 990 plays an important role. Donors can easily access how the nonprofit organization utilizes its resources, such as how effectively they invest money in helping others. The more effective a charitable organization is, the more trust it will be able to develop with the potential donor, thus increasing its donations.

Nonprofit Compliance Checklist: The GPS to Generosity

Here is a list of general good practices every nonprofit must practice: 

Keep good records

These are important to file financial reports with the IRS properly and also come in handy when a director or an employee of the nonprofit accuses the organization of impropriety. 

Make a conflict of interest policy

This prevents misuse of resources. For example, suppose a nonprofit board member is also a vendor who provides goods or services to the organization. Without a conflict of interest policy, there may be a risk of overcharging or favoring the board member’s company in financial transactions, resulting in the misuse of the nonprofit’s funds. The policy would require disclosure of such relationships and impose procedures for competitive bidding or other safeguards to ensure fair pricing and unbiased decision-making.

Act in accordance with Company bylaws

Bylaws mean a structure, the system through which the nonprofit steers through. For example, a nonprofit works for underprivileged kids, and its bylaws stipulate that 80% of the grant must be used directly for educational materials for kids. This would have attracted the donors in the first place, and adhering to it means that donations continue coming in.

Nonprofits must always conduct proper board meetings

This is a good way of developing strategies for cultivating relationships with existing donors, acknowledging their contributions, and fostering lasting connections. This collaborative session enhances board members’ fundraising skills and strengthens communication with donors, increasing donor engagement and support for the nonprofit’s mission.

A nonprofit must never contribute to political campaigns

Doing so would mean a violation of tax-exempt rules. Consequently, the IRS will revoke its nonprofit, tax-exempt status, leading to the loss of its special tax privileges. The nonprofit will also be required to pay back taxes and may be subject to additional penalties, not to mention the bad publicity that will be attracted, leading to loss of donations in the future.

Compliance and Filing Deadlines: Navigating the Calendar

The IRS laws stipulate the nonprofit must submit either Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF within four and ½ months after its accounting period ends. If needed, you can relax knowing that a 6-month extension with Form 8868 can help you avoid any penalties.

And the good thing to remember here is there is no penalty and no fines for late 990-N submission, so there is no need to keep a constant eye on that one!

Conclusion: Sailing Toward a Better Tomorrow

Remember, adherence to compliance is a crucial aspect in the realm of giving and financial reporting. By upholding transparency and accountability as your guiding principles, donors will be more inclined to support your cause.

There is no need to be daunted by complexities, as achieving compliance is feasible for all those who wish to contribute to our fellow Americans. 

Let your nonprofit’s endeavors serve as a beacon of hope for those in need.

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