October 18, 2017 - Washington, DC, USA: National Center for Family Philanthropy, National Forum on Family Philanthropy. Photo by Ian Wagreich / © Ian Wagreich Photography

Audits, Accounting, and Completing the 990-PF Form

About this collection: What questions should we ask our auditors? What are our fiduciary responsibilities as family foundation board members? What common mistakes do foundations make when completing the 990-PF? This Content Collection provides comprehensive but concise answers to these questions and many more.

What questions should we ask our auditors? What are our fiduciary responsibilities as family foundation board members? What common mistakes do foundations make when completing the 990-PF? This Content Collection provides comprehensive but concise answers to these questions and many more.

Please see the NCFP Content Collection on Expenditure Responsibility for additional information and resources.

Compliance Checklists

Checklist of Fiduciary Responsibilities

Sample
This checklist of board fiduciary responsibilities from 'Investment Issues for Family Funds' includes questions on the areas of investment knowledge and oversight; reporting requirements; and planning for the future.

Check this: A compliance checklist for private foundations

Tool
This list is a helpful tool for family foundation boards seeking to assess whether their foundation is operating in accordance with the relevant legal requirements and whether any modifications to foundation legal documents or procedures are necessary.

Audits and Accounting

What Questions Should We Ask Our Auditors?

Article
Once again everyone’s favorite time of year has arrived, audit time! For many, this can be viewed as a daunting and even arduous process.  A family foundation in NCFP’s network of Friends who no longer cringes at audit time shares this list of questions to ask your auditor …

Audit Committee Charter (The Wallace Foundation)

Sample
The Audit Committee of the Foundation’s Board of Directors (the Committee) assists the Board in fulfilling its responsibility for oversight of the quality and integrity of the accounting, auditing, and reporting practices of the Foundation. The Committee’s purpose is to oversee the accounting and financial reporting processes of …

Have We Properly Verified the Tax-Exempt Status of Our Grantees?

Article
Every grant award offers a potential risk that should be understood and properly mitigated. Providing grants to a charity that has had its tax-exempt status revoked — even unknowingly — can lead to the disbursement being considered a taxable expenditure, prevent foundations from meeting the annual 5 percent distribution requirement, and cause the …

How long should a foundation keep grantee reports?

Ask the Center
Are there legal requirements, IRS or other, for foundations regarding receiving and retaining paperwork from grantees that documents how grant dollars were spent? A good rule of thumb is to keep grant materials for seven years. We suggest four years at a minimum. The IRS audit statute of limitations is …

Completing and Managing 990-PFs

10 General Guidelines for Greater Foundation Transparency

Article
Given the immense diversity of foundations, it is a challenge to talk about any aspect of foundation behavior that goes beyond the minimum required in law and public policy to reach prescriptions for the behavior of foundations across the board.

The 990-PF in a Nutshell: What You Need to Know

Article
What is the 990-PF and who needs to fill one out? The 990-PF is the tax return used for all private foundations filing under tax-exempt status, which inventories all of a foundation’s assets, investments, revenue, expenses, and charitable disbursements throughout the fiscal year. It also lists foundation officers, trustees, …

What You Should Know Before Signing Your Organization’s Form 990-PF

Article
In this era of increased public interest and accessibility, submission of the 990-PF foundation tax return to the IRS has taken on new meaning and importance. Reporters, researchers, grant seekers – and others – look at the 990-PF for information about your organization. According to the Urban Institute, it is the most …

10 common errors to avoid in completing a private foundation’s form 990-PF

Report
This checklist, intended for all audiences, highlights the most common errors that foundations make when filling out the Form 990 that could cast legitimate activity in a bad light, e.g., not filling out the entire form, not attaching appropriate schedules, or documenting administrative expenses incorrectly.

What are the disclosure requirements from the IRS regarding Form 990-PF?

Ask the Center
As a private foundation it is important that you abide by the rules, and specifically the rules implemented by the IRS. It is no secret that as a 501(c)(3) organization you must be held accountable by not only the government but also by the people. Under the private foundations tax …