The designatory letters DChA are used by holders of a Diploma in Charity Accounting, a qualification awarded by The Institute of Chartered Accountants  (ICAEW) who hope that it will inspire confidence that the holder of the Diploma has the knowledge to make a real difference to the prosperity of an organisation through understanding of charity accounting and financial management.

Prior to 2007 the diploma could be achieved through study and examination or by submitting evidence of experience in advising the 3rd sector.  The ‘experience’ route is no longer available.

At the time of writing this post, around 700 accountants in the UK hold this diploma (listed here) and just over half of these are working in practice as auditors / independant examiners and advisers.   The remaining mainly being financial managers working with in the sector itself.


As a trustee, what does using an accountant with the Diploma mean to you?

  • Confidence to trust them to provide specialist financial care with knowledge of your sector and its inherent challenges
  • Reassurance that they understand the complexities of Charity Accounting
  • Non-financial matters such as governance are addressed with practical solutions
  • Information is presented in a straightforward and understandable manner
  • Value for Money services with fixed fees and experienced resources to keep fees to a minimum
  • You can get on with running your charity knowing that you are in safe hands!

In my opinion providing services to not-for-profit organisations takes additional expertise as the sector has specific accounting requirements as well as a different type environment in terms of targets, principles, reporting and management needs.  Often the people working within this sector do so for low or no monetary reward and do not necessarily have the same skills of someone who has been involved in a corporate environment.  Therefore the level of support and the approach taken to professional advice should be different.

To get the most value from your professional advisers, it is essential that they have carried out adequate and relevant professional development (CPD) and have experience in your industry.


Update:  In August 2010, ICAEW announced that in response to demand the DChA experience route is being re-opened for senior professionals in charity accounting to gain recognition for their expertise.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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