28 April 2010

Nonprofit organisations throughout Australia will be able to slash red tape and save money, thanks to a new accounting structure developed by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Last week's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of state and federal governments agreed to adopt the Standard Chart of Accounts for nonprofit organisations receiving government grants from July 1, 2010.

The chart of accounts, developed by QUT's Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS), is available free of charge to nonprofit organisations.

Centre director Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes said the chart would remedy a lack of consistency in accounting terms required by government departments which funded nonprofit organisations.

"Essentially what it means for these organisations is that they no longer have to negotiate the chaotic maze of government guidelines and instead can now focus their efforts on their core business, which is improving the lives of others,'' he said.

Professor McGregor-Lowndes said the chart was a list of the most common accounts needed by nonprofit organisations to report on grant expenditure.

It also explained in simple terms what should be included under each account.

"This will save the organisations precious dollars and time in complying with reporting on grants acquittal,'' he said.

"Before the chart was introduced in Queensland in July 2006, each government department had its own definition of various accounting terms. This meant there were 113 definitions of wages and salaries alone and 15 different ways of acquitting postage and petty cash outlays."

The Queensland chart of accounts was the result of a three-year project led by the QUT centre and conducted in collaboration with the Queensland Treasury and five government departments.

The project was then expanded to New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and is now implemented across the federal and all state and territory governments.

Implementation tools to assist organisations to transfer to the new accounting procedure are available at the CPNS wiki site

Professor McGregor-Lowndes said Canada's federal and state governments were planning to trial the QUT-developed standard chart.

For further inquiries or interviews, please contact QUT Media Manager Ian Eckersley (07) 3138 2361 or 0432 754 897.

Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes