This Commissioner’s Policy Statement is issued under the authority of the Commissioner and should be read together with the ACNC Policy Framework, which sets out the scope, context and definitions common to our policies.

Policy statement

This Commissioner’s Policy Statement sets out how the ACNC considers requests to recognise third party standards as meeting the ACNC Governance Standards and/or External Conduct Standards set out in the Australian Charities and Not‑for‑profits Commission Regulation 2013 (Cth) (the ACNC Regulations), and the scope and meaning of that recognition.

Please note that the External Conduct Standards are expected to come into effect in the second half of 2019.

Principle 1: The ACNC will, where possible, recognise third party standards.

Principle 2: The ACNC will always verify the mapping of third party standards.

Principle 3: The ACNC will always assess a charity’s compliance with the ACNC Standards.

Principle 4: Recognition is not endorsement.

Context

  1. One of the three objects of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) (the ACNC Act) is to promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on Australian charities (section 15-5(1)(c)).

  2. The ACNC Act requires charities to comply with the ACNC Governance Standards (unless they are a Basic Religious Charity) and the External Conduct Standards, if applicable, to maintain their eligibility for registration (section 25-5(3)(b)). The ACNC Governance Standards set out the minimum standard of governance for charities. The External Conduct Standards provide a minimum level of assurance that registered charities meet appropriate standards of governance and behaviour when operating outside Australia.

  3. As well as complying with the ACNC Standards, many registered charities are obliged or choose to follow a set of standards, code of conduct or accreditation rules developed by a third party (‘third party standards’). These third party standards may be set by a government agency, funding partner, peak body or sector group.

  4. In meeting certain third party standards it is highly likely that a charity would also meet the ACNC Standards.

  5. Where this is the case, and particularly where the third party standards already require charities to provide evidence of compliance, it may be appropriate for the ACNC to publicly recognise that meeting these standards is likely to mean that a charity also meets some or all of the ACNC Standards.

Principles

Principle 1: The ACNC will, where possible, recognise third party standards

  1. The ACNC will allow third parties to map their standards against the ACNC Governance and/or External Conduct Standards. Where the ACNC agrees with the suggested alignment between the sets of standards, it will publish this map on the ACNC website.
  2. This will allow registered charities to ascertain their likely compliance levels with the ACNC Standards where they already meet the third party’s standards.
  3. The ACNC will do this to assist charities reduce unnecessary compliance duplication and provide charities with a degree of certainty that if they meet third party standards then they are likely to be meeting the ACNC Standards.

Principle 2: The ACNC will always verify the mapping of third party standards

  1. The third party responsible for the standards may apply in writing to the Commissioner for recognition of the overlap between their standards and the ACNC Standards.
  2. The application must include clear mapping of the third party standards against the ACNC Standards, and set out where compliance with such standards would assist a charity to meet the ACNC Standards.
  3. The ACNC will assess the mapping of the standards, and work with the third party (as necessary) to clarify any matters or address any concerns. The ACNC will always seek to establish a common understanding.
  4. Where the ACNC is satisfied with the third party mapping, the ACNC will publish the mapped standards on the ACNC website. Any revision to the third party standards will require new analysis by the ACNC. The onus will be on the third party to apply again in writing to the ACNC if there are changes to the standards. The application must set out the changes made and include the information outlined in paragraph 10.
  5. The ACNC will endeavour to work with all third parties seeking to map standards but is under no obligation to accept the third party’s assessment, or publish the third party’s map.

Principle 3: The ACNC will always assess a charity’s compliance with the ACNC Standards 

  1. The ACNC Act and Regulations require the ACNC to ensure a registered charity complies with the ACNC Act and ACNC Governance Standards at the point of registration, change of subtype, compliance investigation or as otherwise necessary.
  2. In determining compliance with ACNC Governance Standards the ACNC may have regard to a charity’s compliance with any mapped third party standards. However, the ACNC is not bound by any assessment or statement by a third party that claims the charity has met their standards and therefore meets the ACNC Governance Standards.

Principle 4: Recognition is not endorsement

  1. Recognition by the Commissioner of a set of third party standards should be regarded only as confirmation that those standards have a degree of overlap with the ACNC Governance or External Conduct Standards.
  2. Recognition of third party standards does not imply endorsement of the standards or the organisation responsible for developing and monitoring them.
  3. The ACNC is not obliged to endorse or publish any third party mapping. Instead, on a case-by-case basis the ACNC will determine the value to the charity sector and act accordingly.

References

Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth)

Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013 (Cth)

Decision-making policy

Compliance and enforcement policy

 

Version history

VersionDate of effectSummary of change
Version 1 - Initial policy25 July 2016Initial policy endorsed by the Commissioner on 25 July 2016
Version 228 May 2019

Updated to reflect current practice, and to improve clarity. This includes expanding on why and how the ACNC will acknowledge a third party’s standards. Also updated to reflect the implementation of the External Conduct Standards