Regulating Small and Medium Charities: Does It Improve Transparency and Accountability?

Abstract

Internationally, there has been a steady increase in the number of countries instigating charity regulation. Public interest theory suggests that regulation increases organisational transparency through reducing information asymmetry, protects (or encourages) a competitive market, and leads to a distribution of resources which is in the public interest. While these arguments may explain charity regulation, the cost of compliance can be an issue for small- and medium-sized charities. Therefore, regulators tend to take a light-handed approach to small and medium charities’ information provision. This paper ascertains the impact of a light-handed enforcement regime on small and medium charities’ reporting, analysing the financial reporting practices of a selection of 300 small- and medium-sized charities registered with the former New Zealand Charities Commission against the Charities Act 2005 requirements and hence the rationale for this regulator. It uses this analysis to predict how the regulator’s activities might impact future reporting practices of charities.

Résumé

Le nombre de pays qui se sont lancés dans la règlementation des activités caritatives a augmenté de façon régulière. La théorie de l’intérêt public suggère que la règlementation accroît la transparence des organisations en réduisant les écarts d’information, protège (ou encourage) un marché concurrentiel, et permet une distribution des ressources avantageuse pour le public. Même si ces arguments peuvent expliquer la règlementation des activités caritatives, le coût de la mise en conformité peut être un problème pour les institutions caritatives petites et moyennes. Les régulateurs ont donc tendance à adopter une approche moins exigeante vis-à-vis des informations que fournissent les organisations caritatives petites et moyennes. Cet article mesure l’impact que ce régime de mis-en-œuvre allégé a sur les rapports que fournissent les organisations caritatives petites et moyennes, analysant les pratiques de rapports financiers d’un échantillon de 300 organisations caritatives petites et moyennes enregistrées auprès de l’ancienne Commission Néo-Zélandaise des activités caritatives, conformément aux exigences de l’Acte des activités caritatives de 2005, et donc conformément à la logique du régulateur. Nous utilisons cette analyse pour prédire l’impact éventuel des activités du régulateur sur les futures pratiques de rapport des organisations caritatives.

Zusammenfassung

International betrachtet steigt die Zahl der Länder, die eine Regulierung gemeinnütziger Organisationen initiieren, stetig an. Die Theorie des öffentlichen Interesses legt nahe, dass eine Regulierung die organisatorische Transparenz durch eine Reduzierung der Informationsasymmetrie erhöht, einen wettbewerbsfähigen Markt schützt (oder fördert) und zu einer Verteilung der Ressourcen führt, was im öffentlichen Interesse liegt. Während diese Argumente eine Regulierung der gemeinnützigen Organisationen zwar erklären, können die Kosten, die mit der Einhaltung von Vorschriften verbunden sind, für kleine und mittelgroße Wohltätigkeitsorganisationen problematisch sein. Aus diesem Grund tendieren die Regulatoren dazu, die Bereitstellung von Informationen seitens kleiner und mittelgroßer Wohltätigkeitsinformationen weniger streng durchzusetzen. Dieser Beitrag ermittelt die Auswirkungen eines derartigen leichthändigen Umgangs auf die Rechenschaftslegung kleiner und mittelgroßer Wohltätigkeitsorganisationen und analysiert die Praktiken der Finanzberichtserstattung von 300 ausgewählten kleinen und mittelgroßen gemeinnützigen Organisationen, die bei der vormaligen neuseeländischen Wohltätigkeitskommission (New Zealand Charities Commission) registriert sind, vor dem Hintergrund der Bestimmungen des Charities Act von 2005, dem anwendbaren Grundprinzip dieser Regulierungsbehörde. Man nutzt diese Analyse, um eine Prognose darüber aufzustellen, wie sich die Aktivitäten der Regulierungsbehörde auf die Berichtspraktiken der Wohltätigkeitsorganisationen in Zukunft auswirken könnten.

Resumen

Internacionalmente, ha habido un aumento constante del número de países que exhortan a la regulación de la caridad. La teoría del interés público sugiere que la regulación aumenta la transparencia organizativa mediante la reducción de la asimetría de la información, protege (o alienta) un mercado competitivo, y lleva a una distribución de los recursos que es de interés público. Aunque estos argumentos pueden explicar la regulación de la caridad, el coste de su cumplimiento puede ser un problema para las organizaciones benéficas de pequeño y mediano tamaño. Por consiguiente, los reguladores tienden a optar por un enfoque de izquierdas para la provisión de información de las organizaciones benéficas pequeñas y medianas. El presente documento verifica el impacto de un régimen de aplicación de izquierdas sobre los informes de las organizaciones benéficas pequeñas y medianas, analizando las prácticas de notificación financiera de una selección de 300 organizaciones benéficas de tamaño pequeño y mediano inscritas ante la antigua Comisión de Organizaciones Benéficas de Nueva Zelanda con respecto a los requisitos de la Ley sobre Organizaciones Benéficas de 2005 y por lo tanto, con respecto al razonamiento de este regulador. El presente documento utiliza este análisis para predecir cómo las actividades del regulador podrían afectar a las futuras prácticas de notificación financiera de las organizaciones benéficas.

摘要

在全球,主张进行慈善监管的国家数量正在稳步增长。公共利益理论提议以减少信息不对称、保护(或鼓励)竞争性市场的方式增加组织透明度,并导致以有利于公共利益的方式分配资源。尽管这些争论可能解释了慈善监管的原因所在,但是合规性成本会成为中小型慈善组织的问题。因此,监管机构倾向于为中小型慈善组织的信息提供采取灵活的方法。本论文选择了根据2005年《慈善法》要求,在前新西兰慈善委员会注册的300个中小型慈善组织,以确定灵活实施机制对中小型慈善组织的报告、分析和财务报告实践的影响。其中使用了本分析以预测监管机构活动如何影响慈善组织的未来报告实践。.

要約

チャリティ法は国際的に推進の増加傾向にある。公益理論では、法が情報の不一致を減少させて、組織の透明性を高めて、競争市場を保護(または奨励)して公益にかなう資源の分配につながることを示している。これらの議論はチャリティ法について説明してはいるが、承諾費用が少額で中規模の慈善基金の問題も生じている。従って、監視委員は少額で中規模の慈善基金の情報提供をアプローチする傾向があるといえる。本論文では、少額で中規模の慈善基金の報告の際に手際のよい実施形態が及ぼす影響について確認しながら、2005年のチャリティ法の要件とこの監視委員の論理的根拠に対して、ニュージーランドのチャリティ委員会が記載した少額で中規模のチャリティ財務報告約300件の選択を分析する。この分析を用いて、監視委員の活動がどのように慈善活動が将来におけるチャリティ報告実務に影響を与えるかを予測する。.

ملخص

دوليا˝، كان هناك زيادة مطردة في عدد من البلدان لبدء إجراء تنظيم الأعمال الخيرية. نظرية المصلحة العامة تشير إلى أن التنظيم يزيد الشفافية التنظيمية من خلال الحد من التباين في المعلومات، يحمي (أو يشجع) سوق تنافسية، ويؤدي إلى توزيع الموارد والتي هي في المصلحة العامة. في حين أن هذه الحجج قد تفسرأن تنظيم العمل الخيري، يمكن أن يكون تكلفة الإمتثال مشكلة للجمعيات الخيرية الصغيرة والمتوسطة الحجم. لذلك يميل المنظمين لإتخاذ نهج ذو لمسة حساسة لتوفير معلومات جمعيات خيرية صغيرة ومتوسطة. “ هذا البحث يؤكد تأثير تنفيذ النظام ذواللمسة الحساسة على إبلاغات الجمعيات الخيرية الصغيرة والمتوسطة”، تحليل ممارسات الإبلاغات المالية لمجموعة مختارة من 300 من الجمعيات الخيرية الصغيرة والمتوسطة الحجم المسجلين لدى لجنة نيوزيلندا السابقة للجمعيات الخيرية ضد متطلبات قانون2005 للجمعيات الخيرية وبالتالي الأساس المنطقي لهذا التنظيم. يستخدم هذا التحليل لتوقع كيف أن أنشطة الهيئة التنظيمية قد يؤثرفي ممارسات الإبلاغ في المستقبل للجمعيات الخيرية.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The 1853 Act appointed Commissioners, with the name change to CCEW being enacted by the Charities Act 2006, Sect. 6.

  2. 2.

    This is despite the limited public access of USA returns. Interested parties must request copies of filings from the charities rather than being able to download them from a central register. Nevertheless, for larger entities, Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving and GuideStar facilitate information access and commentary.

  3. 3.

    Since 1 July 2012, the once independent Charities Commission has been replaced, and the regulator is now within the Department of Internal Affairs. A three member Board has taken over the prior Commissioners’ functions in respect of making decisions about registering and deregistering charities.

  4. 4.

    Information retrieved from the Charities Commission February/March newsletter 2011 downloaded from http://www.charities.govt.nz/news/newsletter/2011-03/ 1 March 2013.

  5. 5.

    There are approximately 25,000 charities in total registered with the OSCR.

  6. 6.

    Charities are defined under s.501(c)(3) of the code, may receive contributions that qualify for income tax deductions, and are regulated by the IRS.

  7. 7.

    In Australia, the National Standard Chart of Accounts has been developed with a taxonomic data dictionary for accounting elements which may ameliorate this issue for financial statements filed with the ACNC.

  8. 8.

    Section 5(2) and (2A) further note that if a trust’s beneficiaries, or a society’s or institution’s members are related by blood, they may still retain its charitable purpose; that marae are charitable if on Maori reservation land and that the promotion of amateur sport may be a charitable purpose if it is the means by which a charitable purpose referred to in s5(1) is pursued.

  9. 9.

    From 2010, a donation of over $5 to a charity with approved done status will allow the donor to claim a rebate of 33.33% (Income Tax Act, 2007 (2007), s.LD1). This rebate is up to a maximum of the donor’s taxable income [Tax Administration Act, 1994 (1994), s.41(A)].

  10. 10.

    While a practice guide was produced for all non-profit organisations (R100), it was expensive, relatively unknown and had few users.

  11. 11.

    At the time of writing, the NZ Dollar was worth 0.55 UK Pounds and 0.83 US Dollars.

  12. 12.

    It is proposed that charities with expenditure of less than $40,000 should be allowed to report on a cash basis, while those with expenditure between $40,000 and $2million should be allowed to follow ‘Simple Format Reporting’—a simplified accruals standard. The External Reporting Board’s proposed standards for these entities can be accessed at www.xrb.govt.nz.

  13. 13.

    See for example, from the UK: Morgan (2011), OSCR (2010), and from North America (the USA and Canada): Froelich and Knoepfle (1996), Keating and Frumkin (2003) and Ayer, Hall and Vodarek (2009).

  14. 14.

    The Charities Commission amended its form in early 2010 to require charities to include dollars and cents rather than, as previously, expecting them to round to the closest thousand.

  15. 15.

    Personal email to author from Van Hout.

  16. 16.

    Late filers could also be de-registered, but there is a lack of enthusiasm for this, given that a charity could receive the benefits of registration and then de-register and distribute its surpluses however it pleases.

  17. 17.

    Personal communication with author, September 20, 2011.

  18. 18.

    However, the CCEW’s 2010/11 annual report notes that it is reviewing how it publishes and shares information on charities.

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Acknowledgments

The author is indebted to Kapil Patel’s research assistance, and the New Zealand Charities Commission for its database. In addition, I am grateful for the feedback from colleagues, especially Professor Gareth Morgan and the opportunity to develop this paper through the Open Seminar Series run by Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Voluntary Sector Research, and to the participants in the 10th International Society of Third Sector Research Conference in Siena.

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Cordery, C. Regulating Small and Medium Charities: Does It Improve Transparency and Accountability?. Voluntas 24, 831–851 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-013-9381-6

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Keywords

  • Charity regulation
  • Charity reporting
  • Charity compliance
  • Financial reporting