The resources listed on this page will help you become more informed about financial management of not-for-profit organizations, charities and social enterprises.

We’ve organized this section by area of interest. Each source has been made available to the public via a credible organization, and has been recommended for its quality of information.

We hope you find this information helpful. If you have questions about the content or how it might apply to your unique situation, please contact us at any time.



Financial statements indicate the economic health of any organization. Directors and executives of non-profit organizations are responsible for reading, interpreting and sometimes questioning their content. Failure to understand and act on the information in financial statements could cause long-term economic and reputational damage to your organization.

A guide to financial statements of not-for-profit organizations: questions for directors to ask (PDF)

A practical guide for directors to use when navigating financial statements and overseeing the financial affairs of their organization.

Source: CPA Canada

Understanding your organization’s financial statements (web publication)

Source: Government of Ontario, Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs

How to read financial statements to find the top 30 problems (video)
Source: Eric Plato, Director of Finance & Administration, Frontier Colle

An introduction to not-for-profit financial statements (PDF)

Source: Institute of Corporate Directors, by Wayne Irvine, CA, CFA


These resources offer guidance and tips on the unique aspects of managing and overseeing financial operations of not-for-profit organizations.

Financial responsibilities of not-for-profit boards: a self-guided workbook (PDF)

Provides basic information for directors with non-financial backgrounds to begin making sense of the numbers, categories and budgeting processes involved in financial management of not-for-profit organizations.

Source: Government of Alberta, Culture and Tourism

Financial responsibilities of not-for-profit boards – information bulletin (PDF)

Source: Board Development Program Voluntary Sector Services Branch Alberta Culture and Community Spirit

The Financial Fitness series was developed by Vancity credit union to assist small and medium-sized not-for-profits and co-operatives in acquainting or reacquainting themselves, themselves with the basic procedures involved in operating a financially healthy and resilient organization. Includes the following subsections:

Financial fitness handbook by Vancity (PDF)
Source: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Legal limberness (PDF)

Addresses “the fundamental legal issues from the duty of care to statutory obligations, for which the Board of Directors and senior staff (Executive Director and program managers) of not for profit organizations are responsible.

Source: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Mary Childs, LL.B. and Richard Bridge, LL.B.

Accounting athletics (PDF)

Addresses the role and responsibilities of the Board and more specifically, the Finance Committee – the Treasurer, Executive Director, Accountant or Bookkeeper – in reading financial statements, what to look for and when to be concerned.

Source: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, David Nanton, CA and Bill Cox, CA

Cashflow calisthenics (PDF)

Outlines the roles and responsibilities of senior staff to maintain the financial well being of a not-for-profit organization. Includes advice on cash flow planning and developing “what-if” scenarios, and provides guidance on how to work with allied professionals to improve cash position.

Source: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Catherine Ludgate – Vancity

Enterprising exercises (PDF)

Poses important operational questions for boards and staff operating a social enterprise. Provides tools and metrics to help identify areas where a social enterprise could be made stronger or become more focused.

Source: Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Elizabeth Lougheed – Vancity and Cam Brewer

Keeping the record straight: introductory accounting for not-for-profit organizations (PDF)

A simple bookkeeping guide that answers most record-keeping questions. It also offers guidance to properly manage funds. Although it certainly isn’t the only bookkeeping system available, readers can be confident that these procedures are based on sound accounting principles and that this document will provide sufficient information for most small organizations.

Source: Certified General Accountants of Ontario

Maintaining adequate books and records (PDF)

Source: Bill Harper, CPA

Audit requirements for not-for-profit organizations incorporated federally and in Ontario (webpage)

Source: Welch LLP, Chartered Accountants

Technical Assistance for Community Services (TACS): nonprofit financial management self-assessment tool (PDF)

A short survey designed for non-profit organizations to evaluate their financial performance. Assesses five financial management capacity areas: financial systems; execution; recording; reporting; and monitoring.

Source: USAID

Charity Village – Financial Management for Not-For-Profit Organizations (webpage)


Tracking the pennies: an emphasis on good financial management (PDF)

Source: Creative Management Project, a collaborative project of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, the Cultural Human Resources Council, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts

A guide to bookkeeping for non-profit organizations (webpage)

Topics in this factsheet include: the bookkeeper; tools of the trade; journals; control procedures; financial statements; audits; budgeting; income tax and employees; incorporation and charitable registration

Source: Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

AccountAbility (webpage)

Provides information on basic bookkeeping for non-profits and outlines the financial accountability requirements of registered charities under the Income Tax Act.

Source: Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan

Financial management for non-financial people (PDF)
Source: Charity Law Information Program, Maria Belanger CA

Standards of Excellence in Nonprofit Financial Management (PDF)
Source: Wallace Foundation

Nonprofit Financial Stability KPI Recommendations (PDF)
Source: Wallace Foundation

Nonprofit Financial Infrastructure Self-Assessment (PDF)
Source: Wallace Foundation

Organizational Financial Infrastructure Self-Assessment (PDF)
Source: Wallace Foundation


Budgeting for not-for-profit boards: information bulletin (PDF)

A practical guide for creating and managing the operation budget of a non-profit organization

Source: Alberta Culture & Community Spirit, Board Development Program

Project budgeting (PDF)

Covers the key areas of planning and monitoring budgets, and gives clear guidance on cash flow forecasts and how the end of year financial statements link with the budgeting process.

Source: BOND (UK)



Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations (PDF)

Source: Industry Canada

The effective not-for-profit board: a value-driving force (PDF)

Source: Deloitte LLP

Board building: developing effective boards (workbook PDF)

Source: Muttart Foundation and Government of Alberta

Developing job descriptions for board members of non-profit organizations (Workbook PDF)

Source: Alberta Culture and Tourism

Drafting and revising by-laws (workbook PDF)

A step-by-step approach to developing or revising bylaws. Workbook includes information about incorporating as a not-for-profit society in Alberta.

Source: Alberta Culture and Tourism

Hiring and perfomance appraisal of the executive director (workbook PDF)

Source: Muttart Foundation and Government of Alberta

Board roles and responsibilities course (webpage)

Source: Muttart Foundation and Government of Alberta

 Organizing your corporate documents (workbook PDF)

Source: Muttart Foundation

Understanding your corporate documents (workbook PDF)

Source: Muttart Foundation

Information bulletins: Alberta Culture & Tourism, Board Development Initiative (webpage)

Each bulletin covers information relevant to not-for-profit board members and senior staff interested in improving skills and gaining knowledge regarding governance.

Sample policies and governance guides for non-profit leadership (webpage)

Source: Dalhousie University, College of Continuing Education

Volunteer Alberta Learning Resource Centre (webpage)

Various online guides for board governance, fundraising and volunteer management

Source: Volunteer Alberta

Best practice guidelines for board resourcing and development (PDF)

Source: Office of the Premier, Government of British Columbia

How to run an effective non-profit board meeting (video)

Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Typical nonprofit board challenges (video)
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Dealing with dysfunction in nonprofit boards (video)
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business

How a Nonprofit Board Changes as the Organization Evolves (video)
Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business


20 questions directors of not-for-profit organizations should ask about governance committees (PDF)

Source: CPA Canada

Risk Intelligent governance: a practical guide for boards (PDF)

Source: Deloitte LLP

Governing documents – policies and procedures (PDF)

Source: Charity Central

Developing policies and procedures for voluntary organizations (PDF)

Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs

Financial policies and procedures: protecting your organizations financial assets (PDF)

Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs

Developing a policies and procedures manual (PDF)

Source: Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

Not-for-Profit PolicyPro (paid-subscription service for a policy manual)

Brings together the governance and administrative expertise needed by not-for-profit organizations to offer a full suite of policies and practices

Source: First Reference and CPA Canada

Finance & Accounting PolicyPro (paid-subscription service for a policy manual)

Policies and procedures are essential to communicating internal controls but it takes a lot of work to create and maintain them. Finance & Accounting PolicyPro can save you a significant amount of time to draft and update your policies. FAPP offers over 140 sample policies, procedures and authoritative commentary in the areas of finance, corporate governance, operations and marketing.

Source: First Reference and CPA Canada


Standards of Excellence in Nonprofit Financial Management (PDF)


Nonprofit Financial Stability KPI Recommendations  (PDF)

Source: Human Services Council


CANADA REVENUE AGENCY – Information for Charities

The resources in this section can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency website. Financial management professionals, directors, auditors and others often refer to these online forms and guides in their work with charities.

Activities outside Canada: how registered charities should carry out charitable activities outside of Canada while meeting the requirements of the Income Tax Act

Arts activities and charitable registration

Community economic development activities and charitable registration

Completing Form T3010 (13), Registered charity information return

Financial statements and books and records
How registered charities should prepare financial statements and maintain adequate books and records

Gifting and receipting: the types of donations and gifts for which registered charities can issue a receipt, and instructions on receipting

Orientation for new board members: the roles and responsibilities of board members within a registered charity

Non-compliance issues and how to avoid them

Political activities

Updated fundraising guidance for registered charities

What is a related business? Policy statement.

Registered charity vs. not-for-profit organization. Explains how the Income Tax Act defines each entity differently

Checklists for charities


Charity Central (website)

Charity Central is a Canada-wide charity law education initiative of the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta and the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta , made possible with a financial contribution from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Business activities and earned income by Canadian charities (webinar, MP4)

Source: Charity Law Information Program of Ontario, Mark Blumberg, Blumberg Segal LLP

Cooperation and mergers in the Canadian charitable sector (webinar, MP4)

Source: Charity Law Information Program of Ontario, Mark Blumberg, Blumberg Segal LLP

Dealing with a Canada Revenue Agency audit (webinar, MP4)

Source: Charity Law Information Program of Ontario, Mark Blumberg, Blumberg Segal LLP

Practical advice on maintaining adequate books and records (webinar, MP4)

Source: Charity Law Information Program of Ontario, Mark Blumberg, Blumberg Segal LLP


Society Guide for British Columbia (PDF)

Explains the process of registering a non-profit society in BC, as well as how to keep non-profit societies in good standing once they are registered.

Source: Community Legal Assistance Society

Non-Profits, Not-for-Profits, and Charities: What’s the Difference? (Webpage)

Source: The Scrivener, a publication for the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia and Sara Neely

Societies Act White Paper: Draft Legislation with Annotations, August 2014 (PDF)

Source: Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Finance

SOCIAL ENTERPRISES - Legal structures in Canada

BC Centre For Social Enterprise (Website)

Legal structures for social enterprise in BC (PDF)

Source: BC Centre for Social Enterprise

Social enterprise in Canada: structural options (PDF)

Source: MaRS Discovery District and Miller Thomson LLP


Legal Responsibilities of Directors and Officers (Webpage)

Source: CPABC PD Audio Seminar

Why Do Directors Get Into Trouble and How to Avoid It In the First Place  (Webpage)

Source: Source: Terrance S. Carter

Duties and liabilities of directors and officers of charities and non-profit Organizations (PDF)

Source: Law Society of Upper Canada and Carter’s LLP


Public legal education and information for non-profits BC (website)

Source: PLEI and The People’s Law School

Artists Legal Outreach (website)



HR Toolkit for Non-Profits (online tool)

Source: HR Council

StepUp BC Resource Centre (website)

Tools and resources to set up your non-profit workplace

Vantage Point Resource Centre (website)

Tools, templates and resources to set up your non-profit workplace

The Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement (PDF)

Source: Volunteer Canada


Imagine Canada: Standards Program (webpage)

Awards accreditation to NFPOs and charities who demonstrate excellence in five areas of operations

Road to Accountability: Charity Central (webpage)

Develops plain language resource materials and provides learning opportunities on accountability and transparency practices for registered charities and not-for-profit organization

Better Business Bureau (USA) Wise Giving Alliance (website)

Outlines 20 standards for accreditation and earning the “BBB Accredited Charity” seal and guidelines for submitting an application

Smart Givers Network: Accountability Standards, USA (website)

Source: Charities Review Council


CPA Canada has generously provided the following free resources regarding the financial management of not-for-profit, charitable and social enterprises.

Most of the guides contain checklists, step-by-step instructions, tools and templates as well as clear explanations of the rationale for quality processes and procedures.

Each PDF guide is written in plain-language and suitable for individuals who may not have financial training.

20 questions not-for-profit board directors should ask about overseeing management of risk

20 Questions directors of NFPs should ask about social enterprises

Fiduciary duty: 20 questions not-for-profit organization directors should ask

What not-for-profit board directors need to know about human resources

Good governance for not-for-profit (NFP) organizations: questions for directors

20 questions directors should ask about IT

Directors’ and officers’ indemnification and insurance: 20 questions for directors

20 questions directors should ask about special committees

Searching for a new CEO? Here are 20 questions for your board to ask about CEO succession

Corporate strategy: 20 questions directors should ask in order to be involved and effective

20 questions directors should know about codes of conduct

20 questions directors should ask about board recruitment, development and assessment

20 questions directors should ask about governance committees

20 Questions directors should ask about executive compensation

Climate change: 20 questions for directors to ask

“Gordon’s workshop was extremely helpful in that it provided important and technical concepts in a very non-technical and understandable way.”

Doug Hackett
Doug HackettPresident,Squamish Community Foundation