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Members of the general public – and especially charity donors, funders and supporters – often have an interest in a charity's funding sources. This includes whether a charity has received funds from government, and the amount received.

Government funds are a significant source of revenue for many charities. Reports focusing on the charity sector have repeatedly found that nearly half of its revenue comes from government.

To help charities provide information that is useful, informative and consistent – and to encourage transparency and accountability – the ACNC recommends best practice disclosures for government funds in an annual financial report.

The recommended disclosures are based on our Commissioner's Policy Statement: Financial reporting scaffolding strategy. This strategy states that ACNC decisions regarding financial reporting should be made with the interests of users of financial reporting as a priority.

The recommended best practice disclosures provide important information to users of a charity’s annual financial report.

Importantly, the recommended disclosures are not intended to replace existing disclosure requirements under the Australian Accounting Standards (AAS) – as for some charities, the recommended disclosures are already required. Instead, they provide the ACNC’s view of best practice in disclosing this kind of financial information, and encourage charities to adopt this approach.

Aims of the recommended disclosures

Widespread use of the recommended disclosures will improve the consistency and comparability of financial information available on the ACNC Charity Register.

Their use will ensure that the information a charity provides in its annual financial report supplements, and is comparable with, the information it provides in its Annual Information Statement.

Disclosing such information may also allow the ACNC to pursue more ways to cut red tape for charities, particularly when the information is already required in certain grant acquittals.

Best practice recommendations

The ACNC provides three recommended disclosures of government funding in a charity’s annual financial report.

Charities that received 10% or more of their total revenue from government (including grants) should disclose the following information about their government revenue sources:

  • the total revenue they received, by each level of government
  • the names of the government departments or agencies from which they received revenue (up to 10), as well as the total amounts received from each
  • the revenue from providing goods and services to beneficiaries who receive related government financial assistance (for example, payments from the National Disability Insurance Agency).

Revenue from government could include:

  • grants from government of all levels (including local councils)
  • revenue received under a contract with government to provide goods and services
  • government rebates, supplements, subsidies or funds for programs
  • revenue received from directly selling goods or services or delivering programs to beneficiaries if the revenue, although not directly received from government, is ultimately funded by government. For example, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) payments or home and community care services. These disclosures are only recommended if the information is readily available or easily accessible.

Charities may want to review and update their accounting system to generate the information required for the recommended disclosures. The ACNC maintains and promotes the use of the National Standard Chart of Accounts (NSCOA) which provides examples of accounting for revenue from different levels of government.

In the notes to the financial statements, we encourage charities to disclose the total amount received from each level of government and include the total amounts of funding from up to 10 government departments or agencies and the names of those departments or agencies.

The total amount a charity received from all levels of government should reconcile to the amount it provided as ‘Revenue from government (including grants)’ in its Annual Information Statement.

If a charity received funding from more than 10 government sources, it should include the details of the additional government departments or agencies in an appendix outside the reviewed or audited financial statements. This appendix can be submitted with the annual financial report.

Alternatively, a charity that receives funding from more than 10 government sources can include a link in its Annual Information Statement to where the information is featured on its website.

Many charities are economically dependent on government revenue. Economic dependency disclosures show users when a charity is significantly reliant on government funding, and the consequences of it no longer receiving that funding.

If a charity is dependent on government for significant revenue or financial support – for example, it would need to significantly reduce its programs or services if a particular source of government funding was not available, or if a significant government contract expires – we recommend that it should include an economic dependency note in its financial statements.

The note should also include the assessment from the charity’s management of the likelihood that this economic support from the government will continue.

Charities should consider also disclosing the judgements and assumptions made by their management when considering their economic dependency.

If a charity’s management believes there are material uncertainties about the revenue from government that cast significant doubt on the charity’s capacity to continue for the next 12 months, a mandatory disclosure that includes the underlying judgement is required under AASB 101 Presentation of Financial Statements.

Charities that prepare General Purpose Financial Statements (GPFS) are required by AASB 15 and AASB 1058 to make disclosures about contract liabilities and revenue received in advance. For charities that prepare SPFS and do not make the disclosures required by AASB 15 and AASB 1058, we recommend disclosing funding from government that has been received but is not yet recognised as revenue.

If revenue received in advance is presented as a liability balance and consists of government revenue for which the charity has not yet satisfied performance obligations, we recommend the charity discloses this separately from other revenue received in advance in a liability note (if it is not presented elsewhere in the financial statements).

A separate line item in the Cash Flow Statement may be presented to show the total amount of funding received from government during the year.

The following is an example of our recommendation to present a separate line item in the cash flow statement for government funding classified as operating activities.

To ensure the financial statements are clear and easy for users to read and understand, we recommend making the majority of these disclosures in the notes to the financial statements rather than on the face of the financial statements.

Legislative requirements and changes to AAS requirements

The financial statements that a medium or large charity can submit differs according to whether it self-assesses as a ‘reporting entity’ or not.

A charity that is a reporting entity is required to prepare General Purpose Financial Statements (GPFS) that comply with all relevant requirements under the AAS, with the option to comply with Simplified Disclosure Requirements (SDR).

A charity that is not a reporting entity can choose to prepare Special Purpose Financial Statements (SPFS) and is required to apply, at a minimum, the following accounting standards:

Since July 1 2021, there has been a single standard that includes all disclosure requirements under AASB 1060 General Purpose Financial Statements – Simplified Disclosures for For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Tier 2 Entities (GPFS-SDR). See the AASB website for more on the single standard for disclosure requirements.

The ACNC encourages a charity that prepares SPFS to consider whether the application of a specific AAS is significant and material to its overall preparation of its annual financial report (for example, AASB 15 and AASB 1058).

If so, the charity should apply the specific AAS in full, with an option to apply GPFS–SDR for disclosures relevant to that AAS and the recommended best practice disclosures, to give a true and fair view of its financial position and performance.

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