As of this week, it is compulsory for all registered charities in Northern Ireland to report annually to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland on their activities, governance and finances.
However, charities are being advised not to worry as the new reporting obligations – a first for charities in Northern Ireland - are being introduced on a phased basis, to make the process as smooth and easy as possible.
Tom McGrath, Chief Commissioner, explained: "As the charity regulator in Northern Ireland, annual reporting by charities will play a key element in our monitoring and regulatory work, as well as encouraging transparency and openness amongst all charities.
"By reporting annually on their activities, governance and finances, charities are also ensuring the public can access up-to-date information on the public register of charities."
Under the new annual reporting programme, known as the interim arrangements, registered charities will be required to submit an annual return and their accounts and reports in the format they are currently prepared to the Commission for inspection.
This means that from today (1 April 2014) all charities registered with the Commission must, by law*, report to the Commission on their first full financial period after this date.
Fiona Muldoon, the Commission's Monitoring and Compliance Manager, outlined the reporting process charities will be expected to follow as a result of the new, compulsory interim reporting programme.
She said: "Under the interim arrangements, registered charities will have ten months after their financial period end to gather annual reporting information, compile their accounts and reports, and submit these to the Commission for inspection.
"As with registration itself, reporting shouldn’t be a daunting process as charities should already be preparing annual accounts and, under the interim arrangements, can submit them in the same format."
For more information on the interim reporting arrangements please visit our Interim arrangements and the annual return webpage.
To make the process for regulation and monitoring of charities as accessible as possible, the reporting requirements for all newly registered charities in Northern Ireland will be introduced on a phased basis.
Under phase one – the interim arrangements - registered charities will have to submit an annual return, including their annual accounts and reports in the format they currently prepare them, to the Commission for annual inspection.
Under the second phase, and in accordance with new accounting and reporting regulations expected to come into operation for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015, registered charities will be required to prepare and review their accounts and reports in line with the new regulations.
*The new Charities Annual Return Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 are available by clicking here.
For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169 or email: email@example.com