Financial reporting by New Zealand charities: Recommending a code of practice
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This study aims to identify issues in the financial reporting of charities in New Zealand through an examination of their accounting practices. This study is primarily qualitative, based upon of in-depth interviews. A review of previous studies undertaken overseas and in New Zealand have identified common problems in charity financial reporting, such as fund accounting, treatment of fixed assets, accounting basis, treatment of legacies, fundraising expenses and accountability. These problems are still common in the New Zealand charities. Some charities are not complying with generally accepted accounting practice. The results of this study highlight the inconsistency of accounting practices in recognition, measurement and disclosures, which makes comparison difficult between them. Financial reporting fulfills the roles of information need and accountability. Given the fact that accounting practices are inconsistent in charity reporting, the accountability of charities to the donors, their stakeholders and the public is likely to be limited. The results of this study provide evidence that the quality of financial reporting and the level of accountability need to be improved to enhance public trust and confidence in the work of these charities. Finally the study recommends a code of practice to improve standardisation and consistency of charity financial reporting.