Unlike some specialised
industries such as the insurance and banking sector,
having a new set of accounting standards for charities
may not be helpful and beneficial.
To make matters worse, it will pose a tough challenge
for charities to recruit accounting personnel. In our
present materialistic world, how many accounting-trained
people will be keen to carve a career in the charities
world when they can make better money in the commercial
Most importantly, one must be discerning to know that
the present charities scandals is tied to the integrity
of key personnel. For individuals who are prepared to
serve, they should be prepared to do exemplary work for
It is tough for external auditors to do a balancing
act between risks and rewards in the audit of charities.
Some external audit firms are wary of the risks involved
in the audit of charities and stay away from them.
One solution is for the relevant charities watchdog
to set up a specialised unit to take over the role of
external auditors and conduct audits of charities.
In this way, the audit personnel will be more
familiar with charities governance and adept at
discovering fraudulent practices. They will also be in a
better position to share the good practices and internal
controls with voluntary organisations.
Therefore, I believe the change of statutory
requirements on the audit of charities is more
cost-effective than a change of accounting standards for
Accounting professional bodies in Singapore should
also supply a pool of accountants who are keen to give
back to society by taking on the role of treasurers in
In the long term, the next challenge will be for our
educationists to instil the right values in our young
and nurture the next generation to work for charity.
Lee Soh Hong (Miss)