Essential Record-Keeping for Not-for-Profit Organisations

Introduction Most not-for-profit organisations (societies and charitable trusts, abbreviated to N-f-P’s in these notes) are governed and managed by well-intentioned, honest people, but many of those people lack some or all of the knowledge and skills about the decision-making and record-keeping required in such an organisation. The sections that follow provide a brief guide to help get people started, but, first, some preliminary advice: What follows is only a brief overview of the essential requirements for good N-f-P record-keeping, and: It may be helpful if every incoming N-f-P Committee is provided with some basic training in governance, and An N-f-P may be well-advised to engage someone to provide such hands-on training or to advise the secretary and treasurer (or, possibly, to be responsible for some specific tasks). Where an N-f-P is incorporated under a statute (such as the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 or Charitable Trusts Act 1957) it gains the benefits of being an incorporated entity, and: The statute under which it is incorporated sets out general requirements for the entity’s governance, management and operations (as noted below, there may be some other statutes applicable to some of the organisation’s activities), It follows that those in charge of the entity need to be aware of and understand that legislation (noting that penalties may be imposed on people who fail to comply with the requirements in applicable Acts of Parliament), and There are annual reporting obligations (for instance to the Registrar of Incorporated Societies or to Charities Services), and Both the Registrar and Charities Services (if the N-f-P is a charity) must be provided with details of a registered office...

Codes of Conduct in Not-for-Profit Governance

Introduction Those involved in the governance of a not-for-profit entity (incorporated society or charity, whether or not incorporated under any statute) have duties and responsibilities: These may be specified in the constitution of the not-for-profit entity, They may be specified in any legislation under which the not-for-profit entity may be incorporated or which applies to the entity, Such duties may have been recognised by a Court, and Some such duties may be ethical. In summary, those in governance need to comply with the law, be totally honest, and apply themselves diligently to their duties. This article does not discuss the details of duties found in statutes, constitutions or Court decisions but, rather, obligations relating to the processes and behaviours usually required of those governing entities.   Compliance with duties in statutes, constitutions or Court decisions Consistent with the previous sentence, no reference is made to specific legal duties owed under any statute, constitution or Court decisions, but those in governance are obliged, in good conscience, to comply with their legal obligations.   Conduct related to being a “good steward” Collectively, those in governance of any organisation are the temporary custodians of the organisation and are, collectively, expected (by the organisation’s members, but often by others in the community, and by law) to: Comply with their legal obligations and duties, Maintain and improve the good reputation of an entity, and Mostly importantly, advance the attainment of the entity’s purposes. Conduct related to compliance with the law and ethics Individually, those in governance need to comply with their legal obligations (found in the organisation’s constitution and relevant statutes) and their ethical...