Slip in disclosure standards at Irish non-profits

Report finds over 20% of charities file accounts with no details on income sources

Between 2013 and 2015 reported income from fundraising and donations increased by 15 on average year-on-year in Irish non-profits. Photograph: iStock Photo

Between 2013 and 2015 reported income from fundraising and donations increased by 15 on average year-on-year in Irish non-profits. Photograph: iStock Photo

 

Disclosure standards in Irish not-for-profit organisations have slipped, according to a report from Benefacts. The report, which analysed data between 2013 and 2015, found that 23 per cent of all charities opted to file abridged financial statements, which provide no information about the sources of their income.

The report covers a period during which there were a series of controversies in the charity sector in Ireland. Between 2013 and 2015, the scandal involving the remuneration of former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins erupted.

It was also during that time that former Console boss Paul Kelly, his wife, Patricia, and their son, Tim, accrued almost €500,000 in salaries and cars.

Staff salaries

Just 1 per cent of staff in the sector, which employs almost 150,000 people and turns over nearly €11 billion annually, receive more than €70,000 in annual remuneration. That compares to 12.8 per cent in the workforce at large.

The report notes the considerable variance in size and scale of Irish non-profits. Of the organisations for which financial income data was available in 2015, 35 per cent reported total income of €50,000 or less, 44 per cent reported turnover of between €50,000 and €500,000 while 12 per cent of the companies analysed had a turnover in excess of €1 million annually.

The government was identified as the largest single source of funding to Irish non-profits and, according to the report, committed €5.3 billion to the sector in 2015.

Charity regulation

Donations to non-profit organisations is said to make up 7 per cent of income. Between 2013 and 2015 reported income from fundraising and donations increased by 15 per cent on average year on year.

“Thanks to new charity regulation, new company reporting standards and consistent government commitment to open data principles, we are now able to bring some transparency to a sector that has languished in the shade for too long” said Benefacts founder and managing director Patricia Quinn.

Benefacts is itself a non-profit company, and is funded by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.