Charities urged to improve online accounts

Many regard website reporting as an afterthought, says former ICAEW president Graham Ward

Charities are not doing enough to make their accounts available online, according to a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Graham Ward, who is chair of judges for ICAEW's charity online awards, told delegates at the presentation ceremony that too many accounts were simply presented as PDF documents, with little thought going into presentation or making figures interactive.

"Many of these have been thoughtfully designed and produced, but they send a message that the web is an afterthought when, in fact, it is increasingly the prime means of communication with donors and volunteers," he said.

However, there had been considerable improvement in the presentation of charity accounts online, he said.

"As the ability to be more innovative has increased, what was once best practice has become common practice."

The most effective online accounts award for charities with annual incomes of under £100,000 was won by Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society.

The winner in the under £500,000 category was Zambian Aids charity Cecily's Fund.

The winner in the under £2m class was the Charity Finance Directors' Group and the winner in the charities over £2m category was the British Library.

The ICAEW also assessed the accounts of the top 100 charities by income that did not enter the awards, and concluded that the British Heart Foundation had the best online accounts.

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