Regulating charities

The ACNC regulates charities under the ACNC Act by:

  • registering charities
  • collecting information about charities and maintaining the free ACNC Charity Register
  • reducing red tape for charities by working with other agencies to reduce unnecessary or duplicative administrative requirements
  • providing guidance, education and advice
  • monitoring compliance and managing non-compliance

Examples of ways we regulate charities include us applying the legal meaning of 'charity' when deciding to register charities under the ACNC Act, and publishing the Annual Information Statements and financial reports provided by registered charities on the ACNC Register. We provide education, guidance and advice to help registered charities understand and comply with their obligations. If  charities are not meeting their obligations, we work with them to address concerns through appropriate and proportionate action. We also share charity information with authorised government agencies through the Charity Passport, and work with other agencies to reduce unnecessary or duplicative administrative requirements imposed on the sector.

Regulatory approach statement

The ACNC has published a regulatory approach statement that explains how we will approach our role as the independent charity regulator.

An understanding of charities is at the foundation of our regulatory approach – we recognise that the purpose of charities is to benefit the public, and that charities contribute to our society in vital ways.

The ACNC Regulatory Approach Statement was originally published in April 2013. A revised Regulatory Approach Statement was published in November 2015, after consultation with the sector. The revised Regulatory Approach Statement focuses on improving clarity and addressing omissions and out of date information. The revised Statement also ensures consistency with current and best practice.

Download the ACNC regulatory approach statement

How we will use our powers to regulate

We will use our powers in a way that reflects both the risks and the evidence before us. In exercising our powers and functions, we have regard to the regulatory principles of regulatory necessity, reflecting risk, and proportionate regulation.

More information

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ACNC charity compliance decisions

If we do intervene, we may conduct either a compliance review or an investigation. This may result in the ACNC providing regulatory advice to the charity, recommending the charity take certain steps (like providing additional reports) or referring the matter to another agency. Where this is in line with our regulatory approach, we may also decide to use our formal powers (such as giving a direction or revoking registration). If we use our formal powers, we must publish this on the ACNC Register. It will appear on the charity’s entry page.

See our summary of current ACNC charity compliance decisions.

Areas of concern for charity regulation

In addition to looking at individual charities, the ACNC also looks at broader trends to identify common areas of concern for charity regulation. We use our general understanding of charities (and the sector in general), analyse data and research about charities, consider past complaints, reviews and investigations to identify key risks for charities and the sector.

Find out more about our work on areas of concern for charity regulation.