What Is a Joint Activity?

October 18, 2016

A joint activity is the combination of fundraising and another function incorporated into a single activity. When accounting for joint activities, the criteria of purpose, audience and content must be met to allow for the fundraising and other programs to be accounted for separately. If these three criteria are not met, the entire joint activity must be accounted for as a fundraising activity.

To achieve the purpose criteria, the joint activity must accomplish either program or management and general functions. Program functions are those that call for a specific action by the audience that will help accomplish the organization’s mission. Comparatively, management and general functions are those that support the continued operation of the not-for-profit organization, apart from fundraising.

The audience of a joint activity must have a reasonable potential for the use of the specific action established by the joint activity or can assist the organization in achieving the goals of the joint activity. Provided that the audience is not targeted exclusively based on its fundraising potential, the audience criteria should be met.

A joint activity’s content may also be fulfilled through either program or management and general functions. To fulfill the organization’s program function, joint activity must call for specific action that will help accomplish the organization’s mission. Similarly, the fulfill management and general functions may be fulfilled through the joint activity to accomplish the content criteria.

The following is an example of a joint activity to meets all three criteria:

The Clean Street Foundation’s (CSF) mission is to limit the abuse of alcohol within the city of Thornville. CSF’s annual report states that one of its objectives in fulfilling that mission is to assist parents in preventing their children from abusing alcohol. As such, CSF mails brochures to the parents of all high school students in Thornville that explain the dangers associated with alcohol abuse. The brochures encourage parents to speak with their children about the dangers of alcohol abuse but also include a request for contributions.

In this example, asking parents to speak with their children about alcohol abuse is a call to action that satisfies the purpose criteria. Additionally, the parents of high school students are a reasonable audience for CSF. Finally, the content of the brochure helps to accomplish the organization’s specific mission through a specific call for action. CSF is able to classify the brochure program as a joint activity because it fulfills the criteria of purpose, audience and content, while also soliciting contributions.

Schedule a consultation with an experienced Aprio advisor to discuss your Tax Exempt and Nonprofit CPA Service needs.