Progression in setting global standards for not-for-profit organisations

December 23, 2016

progression-in-setting-global-standards-for-not-for-profit-organisationsThe adoption of international accounting standards has brought many benefits to the private and public sectors. This being said, there is still progress to be made in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector.

In an excellent article by, Easton Bilsborough, technical manager for charities and NFP sectors at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accounting (CIPFA), Bilsborough talks about issues facing the NFP sector and points out the benefits of adopting accounting standards.

According to Bilsborough, a recent study by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) on financial reporting by NFP, showed organisations in this sector, in at least 179 countries, having problems related to accounting for non-exchange transactions; fund accounting; income recognition; gifts in kind; mergers; treatment of branches; and reporting on reserves. In addition, the absence of global standards prevented the attainment of high-quality standards within individual jurisdictions.

Accounting in the NFP sector has made slow progress and according to Bilsborough, the International Forum of Accounting Standard Setters has formed a working group to build a database of practice to help move forward NFP reporting across the globe.

Achieving international accounting standards would bring several benefits to the NFP sector. It would improve the quality of reporting and make charities more transparent, making it clear for support from donors and funders. Also, with consistent reporting, the not-for-profit sector would be better understood.

Many NFP entities work across a number of jurisdictions and the development of standards that are accepted internationally will be of significant benefit to them. There is however, a long way to go until these standards are ready to be implemented.