Accounting and reporting: essentials

This page provides guidance and signposts charities to where they can find further information that will help when preparing charity accounts and the trustees’ annual report.

For more information on the annual reporting requirements for registered Northern Ireland charities, please visit the Annual reporting page of our website.

Receipts and payments accounts

There are two types of accounts which charities can prepare: receipts and payments accounts and accruals accounts. 

Smaller, non-company charities can prepare receipts and payments accounts, which are simpler than accruals accounts. However, charities which are companies cannot use receipts and payments accounts.

Receipts and payments accounts involve simple cash accounting. The Commission has produced the following guidance to support eligible charities in the production of their receipts and payments accounts:  

The draft introductory notes explain the principles underlying receipts and payments accounts and provide advice and tips on when and how to prepare this type of accounts. While published to support and assist charities, please note that the introductory notes are currently in development. Further information is available below if you would like to provide comment or feedback on the draft notes.

The Receipts and payments toolkit, along with the Example receipts and payments accounts, provide a copy of the Commission’s recommended format for this type of accounts.


Receipts and payments guidance: Open for comment

The Commission’s introductory notes, available above in draft format, are currently in development and are therefore open for comment from interested parties

This comment phase, running from 4 July 2014 to 31 October 2014, will provide the Commission with an important opportunity to gain valuable feedback and opinions on the introductory notes.

Following this comment phase, the Commission will analyse the feedback received and prepare the final version of the introductory notes.

If you would like to comment on the draft Receipts and payments accounts: introductory notes please contact the Commission directly by email (  

The toolkit and example accounts have been finalised and are a key component of the Commission’s receipts and payments guidance.


Trustees’ annual report

For more information on how to prepare a trustees’ annual report and examples to follow please click here (external website).


The Statement of Recommended Practice: Accounting and Reporting by Charities (The Charities SORP)

The Charities SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) provides a comprehensive framework of recommended practice for charity accounting and reporting. It provides a mechanism enabling charities to meet the legal requirement when preparing accruals accounts and provides consistency in the sector's interpretation of accounting standards. The SORP also provides recommendations for annual reporting that are relevant to sector and stakeholders needs and are in line with wider developments in reporting.

At present the Charities SORP is recommended best practice for unincorporated charities in Northern Ireland. However this will change when full accounting and reporting regulations come into effect, expected 1 January 2015, when charities must prepare their accounts in accordance with the form and content requirements laid out in the legislation. Corporate charities must ensure they adhere to their accounting and reporting requirements under any other legislation.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, as the joint SORP-making body for charities, have developed two new SORPs in partnership with the Charities SORP Committee.

The new SORPs were published on 16 July 2014 and can be viewed on the SORP microsite.

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