Eric Rubio, regular contributor

Focus Areas

Accounting and Financial Reporting, Financial Planning and Analysis, Nonprofit Governance, Vendor and Contract Management

About

Eric Joseph Rubio is a nonprofit and arts management professional originally from Chicago, and now based in Washington, DC. He has served in staff and leadership roles with churches, schools, and arts organizations in the Chicago, South Florida, and Washington, DC areas. Eric is a proud alumnus of the Wheaton College (IL) Conservatory of Music, and is an occasional freelance writer across a variety of platforms.

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Article Archive

Conference Review: SphinxConnect

In late January 2024, your correspondent attended the Sphinx Organization’s SphinxConnect in Detroit, Michigan. The conference is billed as “the largest and longest-standing convening dedicated to diversity and inclusion in classical music” and there were over a thousand people gathered in Detroit with many more viewing plenary sessions and other selected portions of the conference online. The streamed content should be available for on-demand viewing at Sphinx’s YouTube channel later this winter….

Level Up the Net Assets Portion of Your Balance Sheet

Accounting software will come “out of the box” with at least two accounts within the Equity (or Net Assets, in nonprofit terminology) section of your Statement of Financial Position (also called the balance sheet): Retained Earnings and Net Revenue. In a nonprofit context, Retained Earnings might be renamed Unrestricted Net Assets. None of the day-to-day bookkeeping entries, whether logging a ticket sale, a donor pledge, the collection on that pledge, an artist’s…

Depreciation Basics for Non-Profit Arts Organizations

Depreciation, in the accounting sense, is the bookkeeping process of lowering the value of something that your organization owns over time. It is generally applied to physical or tangible objects that an organization uses long-term. Disclaimer: What is a blog post about a legal or financial topic without a disclaimer? This is not legal advice. You should not be getting your legal advice from a blog post. The purpose of this post…

How to Account Your Earned Revenue

In the not-for-profit world, there are two types of revenue (as defined by tax law and accounting standards): contributed and earned. Contributed revenue includes monetary donations from individuals and corporations as well as grants from foundations and government agencies. Earned revenue includes ticket sales, program and service fees, and media sales. A good rule of thumb is that if a transaction represents the customer receiving a distinct item (a CD, a branded…

Common Points of Confusion Between the Accounting and Development Teams

As our organizations grow, the number of donations and the number of financial transactions grow along with it. On top of that, the accounting function, if it hasn’t already, likely will move from cash basis to the more complex accrual basis. This growth leads to the need for specialization among staff and often a separation of the gift processing and bookkeeping functions. It is very appropriate and desirable for internal control purposes…

Review: 2023 Nonprofit Technology Conference

In mid-April 2023, your correspondent attended NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Denver, Colorado. This was the first in-person instance of NTEN’s annual conference since 2019 (though this instance kept the hybrid option introduced in 2021). There were reportedly over 2,000 attendees across both options, with over half of us gathered for three days in Denver. This review consists solely of my own opinions and reactions to the conference. In full disclosure,…

Important Financial Management Elements of a Guest Artist Contract

It’s spring, so your artistic operations team might be in the thick of drafting and sending contracts to next season’s guest artists. Regardless of your contracting cycle or when you read this article, here are four important elements of a guest artist contract that your finance team will appreciate having included. Disclaimer: What is a blog post about a legal or financial topic without a disclaimer? This is not legal advice. You…

Budgeting Tip: Separating Types of Expenses in your Chart of Accounts

If your programming runs from fall to spring/early summer, you most likely have a fiscal year that begins in mid-summer, and you most likely are presently in budget season. Here are two quick tips for organizing your Chart of Accounts. What is a Chart of Accounts? A Chart of Accounts is less a chart in the visual sense than it is a list of all the account names your organization uses within…

AmazonSmile Closing on February 20: What Your Organization Should Do Now

Disappointingly to the broader nonprofit community, including many arts organizations, Amazon announced on January 18 that effective February 20, 2023, it is closing its AmazonSmile program. Established in 2013, the program had allowed Amazon users to designate a charity to receive 0.5% of the cost of their purchases. It had been a case study in establishing a “set it and forget it” ancillary revenue stream for charitable organizations. Supporters had only to…

Worth a Look for Arts Organizations: Small Business Travel Rewards Programs

If you ever have employees or artists traveling to or from your organization’s home city, your organization should be earning small business travel rewards whenever possible. Many hotel chains and airlines have rewards programs specifically for business entities that are separate from the loyalty and rewards programs for the individual traveler. The good news is that both the traveler and the business or organization that pays for the travel can earn rewards…

A Simple Way to Distinguish Contractors’ Pay from Reimbursements

Many arts organizations will have artists as well as other vendors that need not only payment for their service fees, but also will incur various reimbursable expenses while providing their contracted services. Artists performing for you but who are based in other cities will have travel expenses. Even if airfare, hotels, and rental cars are paid directly by the producing organization, expenses like rideshares or gas for the rental car, and checked…

Are You Ready For Mastercard’s New Recurring Payment Rules?

Earlier this fall, Mastercard issued new rules for merchants processing recurring credit card charges on its network (essentially, merchants who process recurring charges to a Mastercard-branded credit card, regardless of the issuing bank). As originally announced, these new rules would have presented extra and potentially burdensome administrative work for small nonprofits, including arts organizations, that have recurring monthly donations (though enforcement for the recurring donation case was due to begin later than…

A Quick Solution To The Problem Of Missing Credit Card Receipts

We’ve all been there, on one end of the conversation or the other: it’s the end of the month and the finance team is missing receipts for charges on company credit cards. Cardholders get a list of undocumented purchases and begin the scavenger hunt. Some are easier to find and forward to bookkeeping, such as online purchases that had an email receipt. Perhaps it was a recurring charge for some software or…

Keeping Your Books Audit Ready

For arts managers outside the finance team, the idea of an audit may seem either terrifying or mundane. Even some inside the finance teams, of organizations of all sizes, the annual external audit process can consume a significant portion of staff time and mental energy for several months of the year. The external audit process results in a document known as the audited financial statements, which provides a professional opinion that the…

Bridge the Board And Management With A Working Committee Structure

“I just love board meetings!” said no arts (or any other kind of) manager ever. While I can’t promise you will actually start to say that, I can offer a model that I’ve seen work well in my own organization following its recent adoption. This model will make your governance structure more useful and palatable to all involved. In centers on the presence of a robust committee structure sitting in the space…