This is an overview of laws and regulations affecting charities in New South Wales (NSW), not a complete guide. For more information about laws and regulations in NSW, please consult the relevant regulatory agencies.
See information on ACNC-related obligations for charities.
NSW Fair Trading (part of the Department of Customers Services in NSW) regulates charitable fundraising activities as well as community gaming.
If a charity intends to fundraise for a charitable purpose, it must hold a licence to fundraise unless it is exempt from the requirement to hold a licence. NSW refers to this as an authority to fundraise.
NSW Fair Trading is responsible for registering and regulating organisations that fundraise for charitable purposes.
In addition to ACNC obligations, charities that fundraise must comply with:
Fundraising licences (authority to fundraise)
From 1 July 2021, charities will benefit from a new arrangement between the ACNC and NSW Fair Trading.
Registered charities who are required to hold an authority to fundraise can access a streamlined application and renewal process with NSW Fair Trading.
Visit the NSW Fair Trading website to apply for an authority to fundraise.
From 1 July 2021, new reporting requirements commence for any charity that holds an authority to fundraise.
Registered charities that are authority holders can report directly via the ACNC's Annual Information Statement (AIS). They will not be required to submit a separate annual return or compliance statement to NSW Fair Trading.
To help the ACNC provide data to NSW Fair Trading, charities should provide their fundraising authority number when completing their AIS.
NSW Fair Trading is also responsible for regulating any fundraising conducted through community gaming, such as raffles and bingo.
For more information about fundraising, see our factsheet Fundraising in New South Wales.
Some charities in NSW are incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW). These are called 'incorporated associations' and have 'Inc.' or 'Incorporated' at the end of their name.
Incorporated associations have a number of responsibilities such as keeping appropriate financial records, following their rules and holding annual general meetings. These responsibilities are regulated in NSW by Fair Trading.
Annual reporting obligations
Charities that are incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW):
- only need to report to the ACNC using the Annual Information Statement
- are not required to pay an annual fee.
Associations must provide the following information in the Annual Information Statement:
- NSW incorporated association number
- details of the public officer (name, address and email address)
- date of the Annual General Meeting
- whether the charity has five (or more) members
- whether the charity three (or more) committee members
Medium and large charities must ensure that the financial reports they provide to the ACNC meet all ACNC reporting requirements.
Incorporated associations that form part of an ACNC approved reporting group will not be able to take part in these arrangements.
All associations must still notify NSW Fair Trading of changes to the association’s name, details or rules.
When a charity should contact the ACNC or NSW Fair Trading
|I want to:||ACNC||NSW Fair Trading||Additional information|
|Incorporate an association||No||Yes|
|Register as a charity||Yes||No||A charity must be approved as an incorporated association before applying to the ACNC.|
|Change a charity’s rules||Yes||Yes||Before a charity notifies the ACNC of a change to its rules, NSW Fair Trading must approve the change.|
|Change a charity’s name||Yes||Yes|
|Update a charity’s address or contact details||Yes||Yes|
|Update a charity’s Responsible Persons, including the secretary||Yes||Yes|
|Submit the Annual Information Statement and financial report||Yes||No|
|Revoke a charity registration||Yes||No||A charity must revoke its registration with the ACNC when it winds up.|
|End an association||No||Yes||If a charity is no longer operating, it must be wound up with NSW Fair Trading.|
A cooperative is a type of organisation that is owned, controlled and used by its members. There are different types of cooperatives.
Charities that are cooperatives are regulated by NSW Fair Trading.
To find out more, visit the NSW Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20.
Other legal structures
Information about reporting and other obligations for charities set up with other legal structures:
Charities that operate in NSW may also be eligible to receive concessions on some state taxes, including payroll tax, land tax and stamp duty from the Office of State Revenue.
To find out more, visit the State Revenue Office website.
Some local government authorities may offer concessions to charities. For more information, contact the local government authority in the areas where the charity operates.
Other general obligations
There are a number of other laws that affect charities in NSW covering areas such as employment, trading, occupational health and safety and anti-discrimination. For example, charities are obliged to meet obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Some charities may have responsibilities that are specific to their area of work. For example, charities that provide aged care services may need to meet other obligations or hold accreditations as part of working in this field.
The ACNC website has lists of state, territory and Commonwealth Government agencies with relevance to registered charities: