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Australian Nonprofit Accounting Standards Research Program

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The Australian Nonprofit Accounting Standards Research Program is a research and engagement program supported by the Institute of Community Directors and undertaken by a group of Australian universities led by the Not-for-profits UWA Research Team at the University of Western Australia.

It is focused on supporting the development of proportionate, relevant, efficient and effective accounting standards for nonprofit and charitable organisations.

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Research Program Members

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Research Projects

The program's research projects are numerous and are focused across several key research streams with collaborative and independent projects being undertaken by the members of the program.

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Nonprofit Accounting Standards & Decision Usefulness

Project Lead - David Gilchrist

This project examines the decision usefulness of general-purpose financial reports prepared and presented in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards by nonprofits. It has examined the perspective of internal users and is currently developing a project to examine external users’ perceptions.

Nonprofit Asset Valuation

Project Lead - Vien Chu

This project considers the challenges inherent in valuing and reporting certain nonprofit assets for which fair value is not immediately apparent and/or for which the use and/or realisation of certain assets and cash reserves are significantly restricted. The project considers these issues in the context of the Australian Accounting Standards.

Nonprofit Audit

Project Lead - Prerana Agrawal

The audit of nonprofit and charitable organisations is an important element in ensuring appropriate governance and transparency. This project seeks to increase our understanding of audit in the nonprofit context, including in relation to decision usefulness, the audit expectation gap and the extent to which financial audit is prioritised above other key risk areas, especially in an human services context.

Nonprofit Earnings Management

Project Lead - David Gilchrist

The profitability of charities and nonprofit organisations can represent a challenge for those governing them. On the one hand, profitability is important for sustainability in a market economy; on the other hand, philanthropic and other funder support is critical for ongoing operations. This project examines the extent to which financial reporting policies and practices based on Australian Accounting Standards, are implemented based on their impact on likely reported profit.

Nonprofit User Identification

Project Lead - Ushi Ghoorah

There is said to be an obligation on the part of those charged with the governance of nonprofit and charitable organisations to prepare general purpose financial reports when there exist people who are unable to command the production of financial information in their own right but who are obliged to make financial decisions regarding the reporting organisation. The people are termed users. The identification of these users has represented a significant challenge for policy makers and scholars alike. This project is aimed at identifying those users.

Reporting & Valuation of Volunteer Contributions

Project Lead - Craig Furneaux

The regular reporting prepared by the ACNC and presented in their annual charities report indicates that in excess of 3 million people provide their time and energy to charitable organisations alone each year. These human resources are critical to the sustainability of organisations and their withdrawal can have significant detrimental impacts on sustainability. However, the measurement and reporting of volunteer resources is fraught. This project is aimed at understanding the rationale for reporting information pertaining to volunteer resources deployed by nonprofits and how that data might be best be prepared and presented.

Charities & Crises: Options for Sustainability

Project Lead - Huo Luong

The impact on charities and nonprofits from various crises (of which COVID is a recent and significant example) can be detrimental to their sustainability. This project is aimed at understanding the transparency, governance and reporting impact of these crises on nonprofits and the prospects for ameliorating poor outcomes using blockchain and AI, amongst other solutions. The project focuses on the New Zealand and Australian situations.

Small Nonprofits Auditing

Project Lead - Prerana Agrawal

Nonprofits and charities are often small entities in the context of government and commercial enterprise. Their size can be judged by turnover, profitability and/or staffing levels amongst other things. There is a growing movement world wide focusing on auditing small entities responding to the need to maintain the cost of the audit process in the context of the apparent decrease in auditor numbers and limited nonprofit resourcing. This project will examine these issues in the context of nonprofit financial reporting and the impact of the accounting standards on audit issues.

Human Services Indexation Project

Project Lead - David Gilchrist

Anecdotally, the nonprofitable and charitable sector is under increasing financial pressure as costs appear to escalate and funding remains static. The measurement of these cost increases is poorly undertaken if at all and our understanding of cost drivers is limited so that key financial reporting factors are not recognised and prioritised. This project seeks to develop a human services cost index aimed at building our understanding of key cost drivers and the real cost increases impacting sustainability of human services nonprofits.

Nonprofit Financial Literacy Project

Project Leads - Paul Gerrans & Elizabeth Ooi

Key findings in initial studies have identified that a lack of financial literacy is materially impacting the capacity of those charged with governance and other users to appreciate the financial position and performance of nonprofit organisations. This lack of capacity effectively renders accounting standards less effective as understanding is not improved necessarily even if he accounting standards are changed. This project investigates ideas on how the financial literacy of those charged with governance and other users might be improved in order to increase the value of the accounting standards themselves.

Nonprofit Financial Support Program

Project Lead - Ushi Ghoorah

This project is focused on developing tools and other practical outputs associated with the findings of this research program. These outputs are intended to be focused on increasing the capacity of non-accountants in their appreciation of the financial performance and financial position of their nonprofit organisation.

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Consistent with the Program's aims to support the development of pragmatic, efficient and effective nonprofit accounting standards, various publications are produced that speak to key issues across the research streams.

Check out the other videos in this series below:

Angus Thomson (Australian Accounting Standards Board): Applying IFRS17 in the Public Sector

Freddie Housa (Australian Accounting Standards Board): NFP Reporting Framework

Aila Khan (Western Sydney University): Donor Behaviour

Damien Lambert (Monash University): Entering New Standard-Setting Domains

Phil Saj (University of Adelaide): The Reporting Entity Concept & Australian NFPs

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