The ACNC registers a wide range of charities. Some charities may have similar requirements when they register with the ACNC, usually because of their:

  • legal structure (the way they are set up), or
  • charitable purpose (the aim, object or mission that their activities work towards achieving), which affects their charity subtype when they are registered.

alert iconIf you want to register your charity, first read our information on starting a charity and find out if your charity is one of those who can register with the ACNC. If your charity can register with the ACNC, check the requirements for charities with your legal structure and charitable purpose below.

Type of charity – legal structure

All organisations wishing to register with the ACNC need to make sure their governing documents (for example, their rules, constitution, trust deed, rule book or articles of association) are right for the charity’s legal structure, as well as meet the requirements to register with the ACNC.

alert iconIf you are setting up a new charity, you may need to get professional advice to make sure you choose a legal structure and governing documents that are suitable for your charity.

Incorporated legal structures

There are several incorporated legal structures that your charity may have.

Incorporated associations

This is the most common legal structure for registered charities. The name will be something like ‘XYZ Incorporated’ or ‘XYZ Inc’.

State and territory incorporating regulators provide ‘model rules’ (template governing documents) for incorporated associations.

For more information on incorporated associations, see our list of state and territory regulators.

Companies limited by guarantee

This is the next most common structure for registered charities. The name will be something like ‘XYZ Limited’ or “XYZ Ltd’.

For more information on companies limited by guarantee, see our guidance on:

Non-trading co-operatives

Co-operatives generally include the words ‘Cooperative’ and ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ in their name.

alert iconThe Co-operatives National Law is uniform legislation gradually introduced in each state and territory (beginning in NSW) to regulate co-operatives in the same way across Australia. The regulations under the Co-operatives National Law have ‘model rules’ for co-operatives. You need to check the requirements for rules for co-operatives with the regulator in your state or territory.

Indigenous corporations

Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are registered as corporations under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) (CATSI Act). These corporations are regulated by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). They usually have a name like ‘XYZ Aboriginal Corporation’.

For more information on Indigenous corporations, see:

Unincorporated legal structures

If your charity is not incorporated, it could be:

  • a trust (for example, ‘XYZ Fund’, or ‘XYZ Foundation’) or
  • an unincorporated association (a less formal structure, with no separate legal identity).

Find out more about:

Type of charity – charitable purpose and subtype

To be registered as a charity with the ACNC, an organisation must have a charitable purpose or purposes. We generally look at your governing documents to decide what your organisation’s purposes are. There are 12 charitable purposes as set out in the Charities Act 2013 (Cth).

When we register a charity, it will be registered with one or more 'subtypes' of charity. These subtypes match the 12 charitable purposes, as well as the subtypes of public benevolent institution and health promotion charity.

Find out more about how these charities can register with and are affected by the ACNC.