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COAG agrees to reforms for the not-for-profit sector

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Nationally consistent approach to fundraising regulation

The first of the key reforms that COAG agreed to was the development of a nationally consistent approach to fundraising regulation.

The Productivity Commission’s report on the Contribution of the Not-For-Profit Sector identified that differing state and territory fundraising legislation is recognised as “a major problem for the sector”.

The report recommends a combination of approaches to achieve a national regulation, including mutual recognition of registration for a fundraising organisation or activity, the harmonisation of state and territory legislation, and the development of national legislation.

COAG agreed to develop options for such an approach by September 2010, with a consultation for public comment due for release in January 2011.

The adoption of a National Standard Chart of Accounts

COAG has agreed to adopt a National Standard Chart of Accounts (SCOA).

State-based SCOAs for Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia already exist, having been developed by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies and the School of Accountancy at the Queensland University of Technology over the past five years.

SCOA aims to provide a common approach to the capture of accounting information for use by not-for-profits, government agencies and other interested parties. It is a tool designed primarily for small to medium organisations which typically do not have an accounting department or a sophisticated accounting system.

COAG has recommended that from 1 July 2010 each state and territory, where possible, implement a National SCOA that will continue to be structred around each jurisdiction’s existing legislation. The year 2010-2011 will be used to harmonise the differences in state-based legislation, and from 1 July 2011 a National SCOA will be implemented across all levels of government in all states and territories.

The National SCOA will continue to be non mandatory for not-for-profit organisations, although it is highly recommended that organisations align thier existing charts with the National SCOA to receive the full burden-reduction benefits possible.

An analysis of the National SCOA has been prepared by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), with the intention to provide an overview of the chart and to invite comments from the sector.

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