Financial Disclosure Management by Nonprofit Organizations
46 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2002
Date Written: July 19, 2002
This paper examines how nonprofit organizations respond to incentives to manage their publicly available financial information. Prior research identifies two operating ratios donors commonly use to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of nonprofits (i.e., the program service ratio, defined as the fraction of total expenses committed to advancing the charitable mission of the organization, and the fundraising ratio, defined as the ratio of fundraising expenses to donations revenue). Nonprofit managers have an incentive to over-report the expenses classified as program services and under-report the expenses classified as administrative and fundraising in order to improve these ratios. We examine whether nonprofits respond to these incentives, and we find evidence consistent with opportunistic cost shifting to improve the program service and fundraising ratios. Additional analysis finds that smaller nonprofits that are more reliant on donations revenue manipulate their operating ratios to a greater extent.
Keywords: nonprofit organizations, earnings management, disclosure, hospitals
JEL Classification: M41, M43, M48, L31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation