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An image of Sue Woodward AM

Today I wanted to share two important updates, one about charity advocacy and the other about progress on reducing fundraising red tape.

Charities can have a say in the referendum on the Voice to Parliament

Earlier this week, we published information for charities that want to be involved in the planned referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament – you can find it on our website, and I promise it is a quick read. We recognise that advocacy is an activity that often helps charities achieve their purpose. Charities can and do advocate.

When considering advocacy activities there are some things to keep in mind. A charity needs to be able to demonstrate how any advocacy furthers its charitable purposes. I recommend charities check their constitution to ensure that any advocacy aligns with their stated purposes. We also urge charities to ensure that any advocacy they undertake is lawful, respectful, and fair so that they continue to meet the ACNC’s Governance Standards.

Not every charity will participate in active campaigning. Some charities may simply want to make a statement of support for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ case. Doing so will not jeopardise their registration with the ACNC.

We understand that charities often have a role to play in important public debates and we wish to support this by providing information that helps charities to advocate within the rules.

Charities, Advocacy and the Planned Referendum on An Indigenous Voice to Parliament’ is an addition to existing detailed ACNC information on advocacy by registered charities and charities, campaigning and advocacy which can help charities make decisions about their contributions to the conversation on the referendum.

This is all a part of our role as the national regulator of charities – making it easier for charities to comply so they can focus their efforts on advancing their charitable purposes.

Standardising fundraising rules will give crucial red tape reduction relief

I am (truly) excited by the recent announcement that all Australian, state and territory governments have agreed to a set of nationally consistent fundraising principles.

Once implemented by each jurisdiction, this will reduce over 200 pages of detailed requirements to a set of 16 nationally consistent principles of ethical fundraising practice - effectively a one-pager that is fit for modern times. By any measure that is a fantastic red tape reduction, especially when the sector is under growing cost pressures and increased demand for their services.

For context, Australia’s fundraising laws are complex because they are different in each state and territory. This places a big red tape burden on charities who fundraise across borders – for example, by just having a donate button on their website.

Since our establishment in 2012, we have worked in close collaboration with state and territory governments to harmonise fundraising and associations reporting so charities only need to report once to the ACNC. The ACNC shares the information you provide (securely) with state and territory regulators to save you and those regulators time and resources.

I am pleased that, as of late last year, we can finally say we had reached agreements with all state and territory regulators. This means that by providing your incorporated association number and/or fundraising licence number when you complete your charity’s Annual Information Statement, your charity can take part in ‘one-stop shop’ reporting.

The announcement of nationally consistent fundraising principles represents a crucial leap forward on the red tape reduction path for registered charities. I look forward to continuing to work with the Australian, state and territory governments to reduce all forms of red tape that burden charities.

Warm regards,

Sue Woodward AM