Since the early 1980s attempts have been made to reduce the diversity in accounting practice and improve the quality of the published financial statements of charities. Two major events in this process were the publication of the original Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) 2 in 1988 and its revision in 1995. Changes have been predicated on the dominance of the user-needs model and it is argued that inconsistencies in the financial statements of charities and the adoption of dubious accounting practices make it difficult for users of charity accounts to understand (and therefore use) the information provided. This paper presents the results of an empirical analysis of 151 financial statements of large fund raising charities in England and Wales as a basis for identifying the impact of both the original SORP and the revised SORP. The study's main conclusion is that charity accounting has improved significantly since the 1980s (where improvement is seen in terms of increasing compliance with recommended practice) and it is suggested that the impact of the revised SORP, like the original SORP, is likely to be major although not immediately so.
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