Charities Still Have Outstanding Annual Information Statement Errors
6 October 2016 at 10:00 am
Almost 1,000 Not for Profit organisations have failed to correct financial errors in their Annual Information Statements (AIS) required by the charity regulator, despite warnings and reports of similar errors in 2015.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission contacted 6,500 charities after they lodged their most recent AIS to alert them to the reporting errors. This came after 7,000 charities were made to amend their statements in 2015 resulting in billions of dollars in charity income being adjusted.
“We began contacting these [latest] charities in June 2016 and 84 per cent of them have already corrected the reporting errors,” ACNC Commissioner Susan Pasco AM said.
Based on the ACNC calculations, 950 charities still have outstanding errors to correct.
“Around this time last year we commenced a large scale project that assessed the accuracy of the information submitted by charities as part of their Annual Information Statements and annual financial reports,” Pascoe said.
“In total, we reviewed over 38,000 Annual Information Statements and highlighted 7,000 charities that had likely made reporting errors.
“We contacted all 7,000 charities to ask that they check the information they provided, and if it was indeed incorrect, to amend it as soon as possible.”
She said this resulted in over $3.4 billion of charity income and $17 billion in charity assets being corrected on the Charity Register.
In response to the errors made in the most recent statement’s lodged by registered charities, assistant commissioner Murray Baird told Pro Bono Australia News that it was essential that the ACNC Charity Register was accurate and timely.
“That is why we are pressing charities to submit their reporting and contacting those who have made errors. We strongly urge those charities who have not yet corrected their errors to do so as soon as possible” Baird said.
“Charities will not be penalised for making errors at this point in time. However, it is important that any mistakes are corrected as quickly as possible.”
He said common mistakes include incorrectly calculating a financial figure, entering the wrong number in a field or not completing a mandatory field.
“It is in the best interests of the charity to have accurate and up-to-date information on the ACNC Charity Register as donors, grant-makers and the general community rely on this data,” he said.
A fact sheet defining the common errors, and information about how charities can correct their Annual Information Statements is available on on the ACNC website.
In September 2016 the ACNC also published a consultation paper on proposed changes to the 2017 Annual Information Statement.
“Our aim is to improve the information we collect, while not placing unnecessary burden on the charities that are required to submit the AIS,” Pascoe said.
“This approach reflects our dual objectives of maintaining and enhancing public trust and confidence, while reducing red tape for charities.
“We’ve already received over 100 written submissions, however we’re extending the submission period by a few more days to ensure we can hear from as many charities and sector stakeholders as possible.”
The ACNC said to date, the public consultation survey had received 136 online submissions and nine written submissions as well as speaking to over 100 people in a series of face-to-face consultation sessions around Australia.
The consultation ends at close of business Thursday 6 October 2016.