Corporate Finance & Governance | XBRL

XBRL and non-profits: A data-tagging dream team?

XbrlWe’ve talked a lot about XBRL in previous posts and podcasts, and we’ll no doubt be talking more about it as time goes on. The SEC has proposed a rule that would require all public U.S. companies to provide financial information using XBRL beginning in 2009 for the largest companies, and within three years for all public companies.

So it’s coming, and the sooner the better, say XBRL's evangelists. Not only will the data tagging language revolutionize the way financial statements are prepared and used, they say, but it also may be a major player in the move toward international financial reporting standards. It’s a big deal, and it may get bigger sooner rather than later.

But what about not-for-profit organizations? Is XBRL a good fit for them?

The answer, says Skip Falatko, is “absolutely.” Skip is finance director for the Maryland Association of CPAs, and in early 2008 the MACPA broke new ground by using XBRL to file its financial statements. That exercise showed Skip and the powers that be at the MACPA just how powerful XBRL could be in the non-profit world – and what still needs to happen for XBRL to achieve it’s full potential.

I talked with Skip over the phone recently about the MACPA’s experiences and what he learned in adopting XBRL in a non-profit environment. Listen to what he had to say in this MACPA podcast.

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Bill Sheridan