Good governance major issue for non-profits

The growing divide between not-for-profit (NFP) organisations that have adopted better management processes and those who have not, is a sharp reminder to NFPs that professional practices is essential to maintaining and enhancing their philanthropic share, claims Australia’s peak body for Corporate Governance.

According to chief executive of Chartered Secretaries Australia (CSA) Mr Tim Sheehy, well run, governance savvy NFPs stand out in a crowded market place - attracting better funding and quality partnerships.

“Corporates expect a lot more from NFPs because they’ve realised successful partnerships require work and effort from both parties. From a commercial perspective, an organisation that can demonstrate a genuine desire to work with commercial businesses will ultimately produce more meaningful benefits in the long run”, says Mr Sheehy.

An ABS survey in 2001 showed that $1.4 billion was given by business in the form of gifts and sponsorships to NFPs in Australia, indicating that there is a potentially huge market for attracting donations.

To help NFPs address corporate governance issues and implement better professional practices within their organisation, CSA and Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies have signed a memorandum of understanding which aims to broaden education, research and development resources to professionals operating in the NFP sector.

The agreement, which is expected to provide the not-for-profit community with unmatched resources for teaching and research, will offer an expanded range of training courses and professional development services that combine CSA’s expertise in corporate governance and the Centre’s knowledge on NFP issues.

In addition, CSA’s existing half day training course the ‘Not-for-Profit Board Secretary’, will now be supplemented by two new sector-specific courses which will be available later this year. The two new courses will provide training on corporate social responsibility and not-for-profit tax.

According to Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes director of the Centre, the courses will fill a gap in the education sector for NFPs. The significant recent changes to nonprofit taxation and gift deductibility are some of the important governance and administrative issues expected to be covered in the new courses.

“The NFP sector alone makes up 6.8 per cent of Australia’s employment and contributes $21 billion or 3.3 per cent of GDP. If the 704.1 million hours of volunteer labour was added on top of that, it would contribute $42 billion to the economy every year”, says Professor McGregor-Lowndes.

“NFPs needs in relation to good governance have traditionally been underserviced, and we’re delighted to assist CSA in addressing some of the more unique governance issues practitioners in our community face”.

For more information contact Tim Sheehy at CSA on (02) 9223 5744 or 0419 490 594 or Viv Hardy at Interaction on 02 9261 4102

MR/2004/01

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