Minister Butler speaks to House of Assembly about Charities

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

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Ministerial Statement
To the House of Assembly

By
The Hon. Dale D. Butler, JP, MP
Minister of Culture and Social Rehabilitation

Update on Charities Reporting

Date: February 22nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in August last year, I informed the public by way of a press conference about how well charities were doing with respect to the reporting of financial accounts, as required by the Charities act 1978. I rise today to update this honourable house and the people of Bermuda on the status of financial reporting by charitable organizations.

Mr. Speaker, as of February 12th 2008, there were 405 registered charities compared with 411 in August 2007.  In terms of compliant charities, 355 or 88% of all registered charities were compliant as of February 12th 2008, compared with 318 or 77% of all registered charities in August 2007.  By compliance I mean the submission of a statement of accounts detailing all monies received and expended for charitable purposes to the Registrar-General within six months of the end of each financial year, in accordance with the Charities Act 1978, which is currently being revised.

This means, therefore, that only 50 or 12% of registered charities are currently not in compliance compared to 93 or 23% in August 2007.  Of the 50 delinquent registered charities only 17 (or 4% of all registered charities) are currently delinquent for less than one year, while 33 of the 50 delinquent charities have been delinquent for more than one year.

Mr. Speaker, this trend is encouraging, and shows that there has been an overall increase in the number of registered charities providing financial reports to the office of the Registrar-General.  In this regard, I am pleased to note that the efforts of the Registrar-General to encourage charities to submit timely financial reports are continuing to have a positive response and that progress is being made.

However, Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for charities I intend to push for an even greater level of compliance by registered charities.  We must strive for 90% compliance, 95% compliance, and eventually Mr. Speaker, 100% compliance.

Yes, my objective is to achieve 100% compliance!

Mr. Speaker, the reason this is so important is that charities handle contributions from the public and as a responsible government we must therefore hold charities accountable. When people give to charitable organizations, they expect that the monies they donate will be put to the use for which it is intended. They expect their favourite charity to obey the law. All charities know that part of their obligation as a registered charity is to report their revenues and expenditures annually to the Registrar-General.  This is mandated by law.

Mr. Speaker, to date we have not been heavy-handed in dealing with charities. But – we intend to enforce the law. We are approaching a time when those charities that remain in non-compliant status will have their charitable standing reviewed, and possibly revoked, in accordance with the law.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I strongly encourage those charities that are still non-compliant to get their act together and to make an extra effort to file financial reports with the office of the Registrar-General. I also encourage them to take advantage of the advice and assistance available from the Centre on Philanthropy, an organization that has been working hard to upgrade all charities with best practices.

Thank you.