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When and how are net assets released from restriction?

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Unrestricted contributed revenue is the sum of: i) grants and donations your organization receives for general operating purposes and ii) contributions that you have “released from restriction” once donor requirements on the gifts are met.
This release is an accounting transaction: it moves grants and donations from a restricted to unrestricted account after your organization spends the money for its intended purpose or time frame.

For a general primer on restricted revenue, click here.

If your revenue released from restriction makes up a large portion of your total revenue, the Cultural Data Profile asks you to specify how much money your organization released from restriction for each of its main revenue sources:  individual donors, foundations, corporations and government agencies. Most audited financial statements show only one aggregate amount, but your finance staff or auditor should be able to help you determine the exact amount of your revenue releases by source. 

By completing this section, you will be able to answer important questions about the diversity and magnitude of your organization’s unrestricted contributed revenue, such as:  What percent of my organization’s expenses were covered by available funds from individuals vs. institutions? How much of our budget is subsidized by grants from the local, state and federal government? What’s our annual reliance on restricted funds?

Management Tip:  When budgeting, plan to spend no more than the sum of your anticipated unrestricted revenue and revenue you will release from restriction after meeting donors’ requirements. Ideally, your organization should also budget for and manage to an unrestricted surplus.



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