Why Choose Accounting? Exploring Nonprofit Work

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If you are pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Accounting online degree from The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, your opportunities post-graduation can be numerous. If you have a unique love for philanthropy and giving back, exploring nonprofit work may be the route you want to take. However, your post-graduate job search does not have to be overwhelming. There are several important opportunities for accounting in the nonprofit world, which means you can follow your passion while also gaining valuable experience in your new career. Read on to learn about some of the top accounting positions in the nonprofit world:

Accounting non-profit workers in hard hats break ground at construction site

Image via Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/phl_council/33016151686/

Accounting Manager

The accounting manager is a mid- to senior-level position that requires anywhere from five to seven years of successful experience in the nonprofit industry. You may not start with this position post-graduation, but it is likely one that you will interact with as you work your way up.

The salary for an accounting manager in the nonprofit world can vary, with Indeed reporting pay that ranges anywhere from $80,000 to over $100,000 dollars.

Nonprofit accounting managers may be responsible not only for managing accounting teams but also for overseeing account executives and business development accounts. An understanding of generally accepted accounting principles and governmental accounting principles is essential, as is the proper application of either standard in the relevant situation. It is also important to understand the distinct differences between nonprofit accounting and for profit accounting, especially when it comes to qualifying your organization for continued nonprofit status. Paychex reports that, while for profit accountants focus on cash flows, owners’ equity, balance sheets and profits and losses, nonprofit accountants primarily focus on:
• Financial Position statements
• Activities statements
• Cash flows
• Changes in net assets


Many larger nonprofit organizations engage internal auditors to regulate the flow of cash in the organization. Investing in internal auditing services allows nonprofits to create a verifiable paper trail for all transactions and accounting measures before any outside entity has the chance to scrutinize the process. Nonprofit companies are always under the threat of an external audit from municipal and federal sources, and they must stay in compliance with constantly changing regulations in order to maintain their status.

There are different types of auditors for different types of procedures. For instance, an auditor with a senior accountant status may earn $70,106 per year, according to Indeed. Glassdoor reports that a tax manager is likely to make around the median of $107,794 per year. The average salary for all auditors in the nonprofit space is $97,359 per year, and the top echelon can make more than $200,000 per year, according to Salary.com.

Budget Analyst

Nonprofit companies are driven by their budgets. Whether the organization receives money from a government agency or a private entity, that entity will always want to know how its money is being spent. Accounting is the core discipline that allows a nonprofit the ability to report expenditures and intake in a timely fashion.

The budget analyst should understand the nuances of how money moves within a nonprofit; this job is not simply reporting static numbers on a balance sheet every quarter. Following graduation with an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree, you may begin working as Budget Analyst I. In this role, you might expect a median salary of $53,496, according to Salary.com. The overall range of a budget analyst’s starting salary is between $47,183 and $60,456 depending on the size of the company and the competition in the space.

Financial Analyst

While the budget analyst is focused on internal cash flow, the financial analyst combines knowledge of his or her company with knowledge of the market as a whole. The goal is to ensure the nonprofit makes sound financial decisions. For example, where a budget analyst tries to figure out if there is enough money in the budget for new computers, the financial analyst works to find out if this year’s computers are worth investing in at all.

Financial analysts may advise top organization decision makers on the validity of certain expenses. This level of analyst is entrusted with a great deal of responsibility for the future investments of his or her nonprofit. Glassdoor reports the media salary of a financial analyst to be between $55,000 and $60,000, depending on the size of the organization and the level of expertise of the accountant.

Grant Accounting

A large part of nonprofit cash flow is based on the receipt of grants, which is why the grant accountant is an especially important role in the nonprofit world.

The accountant who is focused on grants usually limits his or her work to just that, as it is fundamental to the nonprofit’s ability to operate. The role is integral to the success of the organization because, in short, if an accountant helps to prove that a grant has been successful for a nonprofit, that nonprofit may be more likely to get future grants from the same or similar sources.

Payscale reports the median salary for a grant accounting specialist to be around $55,000 per year, with opportunities for bonuses.

Interested in a Career in Nonprofit Accounting? Consider a Bachelor’s Degree

The world of nonprofit accounting can include several lucrative opportunities, as well as rewarding ones. If you are interested in pursuing these or other accounting opportunities, visit UAB’s Collat School of Business to learn about our 100% online Bachelor of Science in Accounting program.