Sunday 25 June 2017

Charities to be forced to publish full financial information

Following a meeting with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, the Charities Act is now to be amended to make it compulsory for charities to be fully financially transparent. (Stock picture)
Following a meeting with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, the Charities Act is now to be amended to make it compulsory for charities to be fully financially transparent. (Stock picture)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

New regulations will force all charities to produce full accounts detailing how they spend their money.

It comes in the wake of revelations that a growing number of charities, which are registered companies, are only filing abridged accounts which give limited financial information.

For example, they do not disclose the amount paid in salaries and expenses or how much was spent in charitable purposes.

There are around 3,458 charities which are companies and nearly one-in-five is producing just abridged limited accounts, charity regulator John Farrelly said.

Following a meeting with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, the Charities Act is now to be amended to make it compulsory for charities to be fully financially transparent.

The level of accounting will be proportionate to the charity, and no onerous expenses will be put on the smallest operators, he said.

"Good law will create transparency for the public. Currently charities that produced abridged accounts are not breaking the law but they are not transparent," he said.

Some of these companies could be in receipt of huge levels of State funding.

Over 320 charities have adopted the SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) system where they have voluntarily put forward detailed financial information.

Mr Farrelly said he is working to make the register top of the range.

If a member of the public wants to donate to a charity they should check to see if it is registered with his office.

"If it is not, ask has it made or is it required to make an application to register."

People should try to ensure that the cause and the collector to whom they are donating are genuine.

"In the first instance, donors should ensure that the collector is honest and aware of the work of the organisation for whom they are collecting," he said.

"The collector should have formal identification and where they are representing a charity, the charity's logo and registration number should appear on any literature and collection tin or bucket.

"Furthermore, where there is a cash collection it is standard of best practice for the collection box to be sealed.

"Some organisations, such as sports clubs, do not need to register with the Charities Regulator but any organisation that has a charitable purpose and provides public benefit should be registered and compliant with charitable law."

The Charities Regulator Concerns line is at (01) 633 1550.

Irish Independent

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