Not-for-profit sector surveys
One hundred and forty-three organisations completed the NFP sector survey.
Sixty percent of NFP survey participants stated they had heard of the NSCOA and 30% of all participants had used the NSCOA in some way.
Grant seeking NFP participants were far more likely to have heard of and use the NSCOA.
Eighty-five percent of NFPs that had heard of the NSCOA were grant seekers. Grant seekers comprised 86% of all NFP NSCOA users in the survey sample.
It should be noted that this group was not a random sample and the level of NSCOA awareness and use were much higher than in the registered charities random sample.
Fifty-three percent of those participants who stated they already used the NSCOA volunteered for further ACNC research, indicating a much higher level of engagement than seen from participants in the registered charities random sample survey.
By far the most common reason stated by NFP organisations for not adopting the NSCOA was that they already had a working accounting system they were happy with, rather than any identified fatal flaws with the NSCOA.
‘Other’ responses included:
- We are only small and not subject to auditing
- Too complex
- Required to use the Church chart of accounts
- We are considering using it.
Not for profit organisation experiences of NSCOA use with government agencies
Perception of NSCOA benefits by NFP organisations
“We used the NSCOA chart and dictionary as the basis of our Chart of Accounts with modification to cater for the specifics of our needs.”
“The NSCOA is not compatible with our organisation.”
“Different NSCOA templates for different types of NFP organisations should be considered.”
“The ACNC should work more closely with other government agencies and encourage them use the NSCOA.
Charity sector surveys
Four hundred and ninety-four registered charities (out of random sample of around 6000) completed the charity sector survey.
Twenty-six percent of respondents said they had heard of the NSCOA and 9% of all participants stated they had used the NSCOA in some way.
Grant seeking charity participants were more likely to have heard of and used the NSCOA. Fifty-eight percent of NSCOA-aware and 76% of NSCOA-using charities were grant seekers.
Appendix 2 to this report details additional insights into charity NSCOA users.
Charity experiences of NSCOA use with government agencies
“Apart from ACNC I am not aware of any government agency actively promoting the use of NSCOA or providing tools, resources or training.”
“(NSCOA) provides a valuable reference guide for those financial transactions that sometimes you are unsure where to put.”
“(NSCOA) needs to be reviewed and updated regularly.”
Professional advisor (accountant) surveys
Fifty-two respondents completed the professional advisor surveys.
Professional advisors’ experience with government agencies
“NSCOA is not well known, it needs to be promoted more to boards”
“The changing of the Chart of Accounts to adapt to NSCOA has caused some to resist. But many, once the matter is raised, see the benefit and make the change.”
“NSCOA is quite remedial and lacks sophistication for larger agencies concerned with monitoring unit costs e.g. NDIS.”
“Portability is great, especially because some people travel around from board to board in different organisations - will make it easier for them to understand accounts.”
Non-government grant maker surveys
Fifty respondents completed the survey, the level of awareness and use of the NSCOA was the lowest in this group of stakeholders
Use of financial information collected by non-government grant makers (multiple answers permitted)
Other uses of financial data by non-government grant makers:
- to confirm funds spent
- ensure solvency
“We implemented a very similar chart of accounts in 2012 and it has been a process of education”
“A standard (but simplifiable) chart of accounts would plainly provide you with a means of gathering statistics from charities which range in size – from very small organisations like our own to the very large ones.”
“We do not see future benefits”
“In order for buy-in, there needs to be buy-in by government. Government-led change in reporting will bring about buy-in by the sector”
Government agency surveys
The survey attracted 23 respondents, with 20 respondents stating they provided grant funding to NFPs.
This survey sample was too small to draw any significant conclusions but feedback across the NFP, charity and professional advisor surveys did suggest that government agencies have not consistently accepted financial information in the NSCOA categories from those participants.
What information government agencies request and how they use it
Other uses of financial data by government agencies:
- project management
- continuous development
- ensure liquidity
- ensure capacity to deliver
“Having a standard NSCOA removes the flexibility for NFPs to design accounting systems that best suit their own specific needs. In the same way that NFPs can use the suggested governance documents, the Chart of Accounts should also be a suggestion, for those smaller NFP's who don't have the expertise/skill to develop their own Chart of Accounts.”
“The concept is a good idea but the capacity of organisations to implement the NSCOA varies. We support the idea of making reporting as easy and relevant as possible.”