Commissioner’s Column – 8 March 2017

Susan Pascoe, Our Commissioner

Last week, Assistant Commissioners David Locke and Murray Baird and I appeared before the Economics Legislation Committee at Supplementary Budget Estimates.  

We were pleased to appear, albeit briefly, to discuss recent compliance actions taken by the ACNC, and the ongoing challenge of reducing red tape for charities across Australia.  

New guidance on data security

As people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of data protection, charities need to consider the ways they manage, collect, store and use information.  

How a charity manages information and data – in particular, what the charity does with it – can have a serious impact on the charity’s reputation.  

To help charities with their information and data management, we have published a guide providing an overview of the issues and considerations. It highlights some of the laws that govern information and data, explains the importance of being responsible with people’s information and data, and presents useful tips for charities.

Responsible management of people’s information and data is an important part of good charity governance and maintaining a good reputation. It is also integral to a good relationship with donors, supporters, members of the public, and beneficiaries.

I encourage charities and their boards to download the guide, read about the issues involved and discuss how their processes meet their legal obligations and community expectations.

The new guide can be found at acnc.gov.au/informationanddata.

Double defaulter warnings issued

Last week, the ACNC issued more than 1,300 charities with a notice of intention to revoke charity status.

Double defaulter charities have failed to submit two overdue Annual Information Statements, meaning there is no longer up to date information about the charity available for the ACNC to ensure its ongoing eligibility for charitable status.

This is grounds for revocation of charity status, and loss of tax concessions.

We have published a list of the charities at risk of revocation at acnc.gov.au/doubledefaulters. These charities have until 27 March 2017 to submit their outstanding reports.

If you, or someone you know, is involved with one of the listed charities, we encourage you to contact the ACNC immediately.

ACNC Charity Register research

I am pleased to announce that the ACNC has just commenced a project to improve our Charity Register – the free, searchable, online database of registered charities.

Since the ACNC was established in December 2012, it has been searched over 1.7 million times, showing that it is a valuable resource for the public and the sector.

We are working with members of the public and charities to understand what people look for when searching the Charity Register, to determine how we can best share that information.

With the help of our research partner, we are conducting focus groups with the general public and a variety of stakeholders to find out what people expect to find on the Charity Register, and how people access and use the information.

We will open this research up more broadly later this year, and I will then make further announcements in this column. 

Recent compliance action

We recently made the decision to revoke the charity status of Nest Egg Guardians (ABN 80 514 097 987).

The organisation was endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office to access Commonwealth charity tax concessions:

  • GST concession
  • Income tax exemption, and
  • FBT rebate.

The organisation also had Deductible Gift Recipient status.

Nest Egg Guardians will now lose access to these Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

We are prevented from disclosing further details due to secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act. However, we publish instances where we use our formal powers, including revocation, on the individual Charity Register listing.

You can also find the full list of the ACNC’s compliance activity at acnc.gov.au/compliancedecisions.

Early next week we will be publishing our two-year compliance report, follow our social media accounts to be the first to know when it’s available for download. I will also make note of the new report in my next column.

Results of the 2015 Data Integrity Project

In 2016, the ACNC undertook an extensive project to contact nearly 7,000 charities to ensure that all information in their 2015 Annual Information Statements was accurate and up to date.

The most common issues needing correction were miscalculating figures in the financial section, and also incorrectly reporting the charity’s size.

The purpose of this project was to ensure that the public can confidently rely on the information on the Charity Register. We also use this information to continually improve the Annual Information Statement form, and develop guidance and education materials for charities.

You can find the full report, with our top tips for avoiding reporting errors in the futurhee, at acnc.gov.au/dataintegrity

Upcoming webinar – P&C Associations

If you, or someone you know, is a part of a Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), we encourage you to join us for a webinar to learn more about the ongoing reporting obligations to the ACNC.

The webinar is scheduled for midday (AEDT) Tuesday 21 March, and is free of charge.

For more information or to register, visit acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Commonwealth Bank Not-For-Profit Treasurers’ Award

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Commonwealth Bank Not-for-Profit Treasurers’ Awards. The award recognises and gives thanks to the many volunteer treasurers around the country that help to keep charities and community organisations running.

If you would like to recognise the hard work of your charity or not-for-profit organisation’s treasurer, simply nominate now via Our Community.

Nominations close Friday 28 July 2017.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM

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