Misreporting Fundraising: How Do Nonprofit Organizations Account for Telemarketing Campaigns?

Elizabeth K. Keating, Linda M. Parsons, Andrea Alston Roberts
  • The Accounting Review, March 2008, American Accounting Association
  • DOI: 10.2308/accr.2008.83.2.417

Misreporting Fundraising: How Do Nonprofit Organizations Account for Telemarketing Campaigns?

What is it about?

The purpose of this study is to examine the frequency, determinants and implications of misreported fundraising activities. We compare state telemarketing campaign reports with the associated information from nonprofits’ annual Form 990 filings to directly test nonprofits’ revenue and expense recognition policies. Using a conservative approach that understates the extent to which nonprofit organizations violate the reporting rules, our study indicates that 74 percent of the regulatory filings from nonprofit organizations fail to properly report telemarketing expenses. Smaller nonprofits, less monitored firms and those with less accounting sophistication are more likely to inappropriately report telemarketing costs as a component of net revenues rather than as expenses. Nonprofits that use external accounting services are more likely to properly classify the cost of their telemarketing campaigns as professional fundraising fees.

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