What is an NGO? In the United States this is what we would call a nonprofit. But in international contexts the common term is Non-Governmental Organization.
I attended the finance meeting with our Accountant, Ringsey, but there are also regular planning, leadership, human resource, and sector meetings. The meeting topic this time was “Cambodian Standard of the Financial Report for Not-For-Profit Entities, Tier 2.” Cambodia recently introduced new tax reporting requirements for charitable not-for-profits so it was important for me to be there. The meeting was in Khmer with no translator so I had my dictionary out to look up financial terminology but then they used English words for most of the financial lingo. There were many sentences like, “អ្នកត្រូវបញ្ជូន balance sheet ទៅការិយាល័យក្រសួងប្រចាំខែ។ កុំភ្លេចតាមដាន accruals ។”
Fortunately the financial reporting standards were familiar territory to me thanks to Peaceful Living – who knew I’d be so glad to have done the tax exemption renewals when we were between CFOs – but the new reporting frequency is pretty intense. The Cambodian government is now requiring NGOs to submit the same amount of paperwork monthly that the United States requires nonprofits to submit once a year! That’s a lot of work for our team!
Mennonite Central Committee was one of the five original founding members of the CCC in 1990. The number of members had increased to 54 by 1991. MCC Cambodia Representative Jonathan Clemens served on the CCC Executive Committee during this time. This was the year when Cambodia was “legitimized” by a United Nations Peace Plan resulting in an influx of international NGOs. Prior to this, MCC was one of only a handful of international NGOs operating in Cambodia. The CCC was developed as a forum for coordinating efforts, sharing resources, and building partnerships.
The CCC meeting was at the Diakonia Center near the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. MCC had our SE Asia Regional Retreat here in 2009 so I’m able to show you the same view – looking at Tuol Sleng – ten years apart. I think it gives you an idea of how Phnom Penh has changed.