Charity register aims to boost transparency

Where does the money go? … People are most likely to trust a charity that is open about how donations are used. Photo: Peter MorrisAn online charity register allowing Australians to compare and contrast the ways their donations are spent will improve transparency and may help mend a national reluctance to give to lesser-known charities, according to the sector’s new regulator.

A survey commissioned by The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, to be released Tuesday, shows people are most likely to trust a charity that is open about how donations are used. To make this easier, the regulator, which was set up last year to boost trust and reduce red tape in the sector, will on Thursday launch a searchable database that allows donors to peruse the financial records of 57,600 registered charities.

Commissioner Susan Pascoe said that up until now finding information about individual charities has been a big job. She hopes the register, which will be on the commission’s website and also be available as a mobile app, will make it easier for donors looking for more detail.

“If you want to feel confident that a charity to which you are going to provide a donation has good financial management and is well governed you can look at that on the register and make your own assessment,” she said.

Charities with an annual turnover of less than $250,000 are not required to attach an annual report to the register. Charities with with a revenue of between $250,000 and $1 million are required to report, and charities that pull in more than $1 million need to submit an audited annual report.

Ms Pascoe said the results of a recent survey of 1624 Australians and several focus groups, conducted by ChantLink, had revealed donors have a tendency to contribute to charities well-known to them, fearing that smaller groups they had never heard of might not be genuine. She said the register may help donors check information on smaller charities that have less money to spend on promotion.

The research found that while Australians typically regarded charities as trustworthy their confidence grew upon learning the sector now had a regulator. About 60 per cent said they had “high levels of trust” in charities.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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