In all the hubbub about the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) signing on to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s national health scheme (WA excepted) it would easily have been possible to overlook the paragraph down the end of the press release that said they’d agreed to additional reforms for the not-for-profit sector,
including an implementation plan and governance structure to develop a nationally consistent approach to fundraising regulation, and the adoption of a standard chart of accounts where possible by 1 July 2010. This will further reduce the regulatory burden and improve public confidence in the not-for-profit sector.
A nationally consistent approach to fundraising regulation is something devoutly to be wished, but it doesn’t sound as if we’re going to get it in the near future. These things take time – and heaven knows, the Standard Chart of
Accounts has taken years and years, which is a very good reason to clap it as it finally breasts the tape.
Back in 2003 the Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (CPNS) in the University of Queensland’s School of Business wanted to write a book of guidelines for Treasurers of Incorporated Associations. They found themselves
hampered by the fact that there was at the time no standard financial terminology.
As they looked into it more, they found there was a confusing lack of consistency in the accounting categories and terms required by government departments in their funding relationships with not-for-profit organisations.
This wasn’t just a problem for guide writers, though; it was causing significant compliance costs for Australian community groups, especially those with more than one source of government funding, which had to produce their
accounts in several different formats to comply with the demands of different agencies.
Unlike other OECD countries, Australia didn’t not provide a set of specific national accounting terms for not-for-profit organisations – and Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes and his team from CPNS girded up their loins and set
to to create one and get it adopted by governments across Australia.
Versions of the chart have since been prepared for New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
And last weekend they finally pulled off the biggest coup of all – adoption by COAG. Three cheers to Prof. McGregor-Lowndes and all those involved in the project. You can read more about the project here.
Courtesy of www.ourcommunity.com.au