Public Mandates, Market Monitoring, and Nonprofit Financial Disclosures

Calabrese, Thad.
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 30(1), 71-88.

Public officials have recently sought increased regulation of financial disclosures from not-for-profit organizations as a means of improving accountability with the public. One objective of this study is to examine whether not-for-profit entities already subject to audit requirements submit financial reports in compliance with GAAP. Further, since the majority of not-for-profit organizations are not subject to public audit mandates, this study also ascertains whether other market actors such as donors monitor and demand accrual-based financial information. The empirical analyses indicate that not-for-profit organizations subject to public audit mandates are largely in compliance with GAAP, although a significant minority of organizations subject to state requirements is not; further analyses suggest that external oversight significantly influence the use of accrual reporting. Models are also tested on a subsample of not-for-profits that switched from cash to accrual reporting, with the results suggesting that increasing public and market oversight have a significant effect on the decision to switch methods. The overall results suggest that public and market actors demand accrual-based financial reporting from not-for-profit organizations.

Wagner Faculty