Materiality describes the level to which the misreporting of information could influence decisionmakers who use that information. Since materiality is a highly abstract concept, it requires metrics to support its application to financial statements and other documents. Nonprofit and for-profit firms have different missions, suggesting that material information for decisionmakers looking at nonprofits' reports may differ from material information for decisionmakers looking at for-profit firms' reports.
This paper examines how materiality applies to nonprofit information disclosure. It begins by introducing the concept of materiality. It then explores how accounting literature, rule-making bodies, and the courts define and apply materiality. Nonprofit firms' structure, required financial statements, and comparisons to for-profit firms are next addressed. Issues with assessing nonprofit success and materiality in relation to various aspects of a nonprofit's mission are also introduced.
This paper finds that the metrics which support materiality should be different for nonprofit vs. for-profit firms. Nonprofit materiality measures should center around the mission statement, which differs from nonprofit to nonprofit. These nonprofit materiality measures assess the primary mission of providing goods and services, which has the greatest interest to potential donors. Examples of these materiality measures, along with the challenges and insights gained from them, are discussed. This paper concludes by overviewing nonprofit materiality measures and noting how they can improve nonprofit information disclosure. Suggestions for further research into improving materiality for nonprofit information disclosure are also given.