Once your charity is registered, you are required to report annually to the Commission on your charity’s finances, resources and activities. This is known as “annual reporting” and is a legal requirement. If your charity is on the combined list and has not yet been registered, you do not have to send information to the Commission at this point.
If your charity was registered before the end of May 2019 it may be affected by a Court of Appeal judgment from February 2020, please see the Annual Reporting section of the Legal update for more information.
Annual reporting by registered charities is a key element of the Commission's ongoing regulatory and monitoring work and is essential to keeping the register of charities up to date.
Through the annual reporting programme registered charities will be required to complete and submit an online annual monitoring return form, attaching the charity’s:
- trustees’ annual report
- report from independent examiner / auditor, as applicable.
The Commission makes copies of accounts and reports submitted by registered charities publicly available on each charity’s register entry.
Accounting and reporting guidance
New law, The Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015, relating to charity accounting and reporting commenced on 1 January 2016. This legislation applies to all registered charities and sets out:
- the form and content of charity accounts (receipts and payments or accruals accounts)
- the form and content of the trustees’ annual report
- the level of external scrutiny required, ie independent examination or audit.
All registered charities are required to comply with these regulations for each financial period beginning 1 January 2016 or their date of registration with the Commission, if later.
The Commission has produced a suite of guidance, available below, providing an introduction to, and overview of, these requirements for charities. You can also view a video tutorial on how to submit your annual monitoring return here.
Independent examination during COVID-19
Please find below guidance for independent examiners during the COVID-19 pandemic or in a time of national emergency.
Example of an annual report and accounts
Please find below an example of a full annual report and accounts as submitted by Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical society. Smaller charities may benefit from looking at the Trustee Annual Reports submitted by similar charities. Go to the register of charities and search by 'What the charity does.'
Matters of Material Significance
Matters of Material Significance are those items which independent examiners and auditors must report to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland should they encounter them while handling the accounts of a charity.
The below guidance has been published in conjunction with the UK’s other charity regulators – the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) – following a period of consultation.
The matters have been agreed by the three Charity Regulators and are effective for all audits or independent examinations which are conducted and/or reported after 1 May 2017 (regardless of the accounting period being examined).
The guidance provides a detailed explanation of what matters of material significance are and provides some further explanation of each of the matters.
Future updates to the guidance, or items for information, will be added to this page.
Reporting of relevant matters of interest to UK charity regulators: a guide for auditors and independent examiners
Any person appointed as an independent examiner or auditor for a charity has additional reporting responsibilities to the charity regulator in certain situations.
1. Matters that must be reported. These are classed as matters of material significance to the charity regulator and more information on these matters is available here.
2. Matters that may be reported. These are classed as matters that are relevant to the charity regulators and more information on these matters is available in the guidance below.
The guidance below is a joint publication from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the Charity Commission of England and Wales (CCEW) and the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
This is the first time the regulators have provided examples on where reporting would be helpful by auditors and independent examiners when reporting matters that are relevant but not a legal requirement to report.
Where an examiner or auditor is in doubt about whether they should report a matter, the preference of the UK charity regulators is that it should be reported and the regulators can then determine what action, if any, is required.