Reporting Rules Keep Nonprofits Busy

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A recent Rand Labor and Population study found that nonprofits spend much of their time and money meeting reporting requirements for their organizations.

The study also found that work hours spent on compliance reporting consumed 11 percent of a nonprofit agency's annual budget.

In a yearlong examination of one undisclosed nonprofit social services agency in western Pennsylvania, Rand researchers found that employees of the entity spent nearly half their time collecting information imposed by organizations that supplied them with funding. These activities included writing reports, tracking expenses and attending meetings.

The Rand report recommended that nonprofit groups develop a client information system and provide computer training and laptop computers to let staffs access their files off site. Rand also suggested that nonprofits develop an agency-wide procedure for completing compliance activities and educating staffers about compliance issues.

Rand Labor and Population examines issues involving U.S. labor marketing, the demographics of families and children, the elderly, and economic and social changes in developing countries.

Rand researchers spent a year examining financial records and interviewing 41 field and management staff members at the nonprofit social services organization to prepare for the study.

Interview topics included whether field staffers were trained properly to create comprehensive client reports, challenges staff members faced accessing necessary data from each other and how the staff felt overall about the experience of meeting reporting requirements.

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