Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions of senior accounting officers on governance, performance and accountability issues in the charity sector. Design/methodology/approach - The empirical data presented in this paper were collected via a mail-out survey to Chief Financial Officers (CFO) of large charity organisations in Australia. Findings - The executives surveyed agreed that the public is entitled to receive high quality financial disclosures from charities, favouring "programme accountability", "fiscal accountability" and "profit" as relevant performance indicators rather than cash surplus/deficit. The respondents also considered that charities warrant a dedicated accounting standard but were less enthusiastic about an independent regulator with stronger control functions. Research limitations/implications - The data in this study report the opinions of financial executives which may not represent the view of all managing executives. Originality/value - While governance in charities has been examined previously from an organisational or management perspective, this is one of the few papers that emphasises how members of the accounting profession view this important topic.