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Senate Inquiry into the Disclosure regimes for charities and not-for-profit organisations

On 18 June 2008, Senator Allison (Democrats) moved that the Senate note the report by CHOICE on charities, published online in March 2008. The report highlights the wide variability and inconsistency in the way that charities disclose information to the public and acknowledges that the 27 recommendations from the Inquiry into the Definition of Charities and Related Organisations, which were reported in 2001, have not been implemented.
The Senate agreed to send the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics for report by the last sitting day of November 2008.

The Inquiry will examine:  

  1. the relevance and appropriateness of current disclosure regimes for charities and all other not-for-profit organisations;
  2. models of regulation and legal forms that would improve governance and management of charities and not-for-profit organisations and cater for emerging social enterprises; and
  3. other measures that can be taken by government and the not-for-profit sector to assist the sector to improve governance, standards, accountability, and transparency in its use of public and government funds.

Submissions to the Inquiry 

The Inquiry is currently receiving submissions, with submissions closing on Friday, 29 August, 2008. 

To assist nonprofit organisations wanting to make a submission to the Inquiry, Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, Director of The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, has compiled a resource guide entitled 'Resource Materials to Assist in Submission Preparation for the Senate Inquiry into Disclosure Regimes for Charities and Not-for-Profit Organisations.'

The resource guide is made up of five parts: 

  1. Making a submission: understanding the context
  2. Ten resources to assist in making a submission
  3. Myles's ten relatively easy specific measures that would provide benefits far in excess to their direct and indirect costs
  4. Ten matters to consider when designing improved nonprofit regulation for Australia
  5. Quest for the Oddest Australian Nonprofit Regulation

The complete resource guide (PDF 216kB) which includes all of the above in a printable PDF file is also available.

*So what do the Submissions say?*To date 174 submission have been received containing over 1,390 pages of publicly available material. Seven (7) submission have been kept confidential.

A national regulator and purpose built accounting standards 

On our reading of the submission there are 72 clearly in favour of a single national regulator and 56 for a purpose built set of accounting standards. X submissions did not address the issue of a single regulator and x submission did not adress accounting standards.

Language Used

The debate surrounding language appears somewhere in most inquiries with the Industry Commission recommendaing "Community Social Welfare Organisations" and the CDI Inquiry preferring "Not-For-Profit". Philanthropy Australian (Sub 42) suggest 'Community Benefit Entity".

We counted the number of times certain words were used:

Not-for Profit - 1182

Nonprofit - 399

Non-profit - 262

Social Inclusion - 16

Looks like the Government have yet to win the 'hearts and minds' of the sector with their term 'social inclusion' only rating 16 mentions.

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