Publicly viewable audit is a must for charities and non-profits

In the UK, Europe and in the United States it is a crime for not-for-profit organizations, wildlife conservation groups, or other charities to operate without an annual third-party audit that is viewable by the public. This reduces the likelihood of fraud where money donated to organizations is misused or stolen. When we donate to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) we know in advance that 80% of our donated funds goes to protecting animals. The other 20% is distributed elsewhere. Thanks to third-party financial audits we know exactly how our money is used.

In Trinidad, at least until similar laws are enacted, charities and non-profits are under no obligation to publish audits conducted by third-parties on their financial records. Most of the charities in Trinidad and Tobago do not publish audits. This is unacceptable. All charities should publish a yearly audit irrespective of any laws that may or may not exist to allay public concerns about corruption and misappropriation of funds. How do we know what donated funds are used for?

The last non-profit in Trinidad we interacted with we asked “What percentage of our donated funds actually goes to helping animals?” The answer was “100%”. We asked about whether the organization was audited to which the response to our question was “no”. We are sorry, but even though we would be happy to help in the cause we cannot give money to people who are not willing to account as to what they do with it.

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