Nonprofit organizations are required to report functional expenses either in footnotes, the Statement of Activities (SOA), or a separate Statement of Functional Expenses (SOFE). The goal of this functional expense allocation is to illustrate the relationship between program expenses and supporting expenses to better understand how those supporting expenses further the organization’s mission. And while this sounds easy enough in concept, some expenses can be difficult to classify.
To complicate matters, functional expense classifications can change over time. Like a for-profit business, a non-profit organization’s operations can change year-over-year, requiring that functional expense allocations be regularly updated to keep up with current activities. Otherwise, expenses can be misrepresented or fall through the cracks, resulting in misrepresentation of the organization to key stakeholders like grantors, donors, and boards of governors. Management also relies on functional expense information accuracy for strategic planning, making it critical to the day-to-day operation of the organization.