As the new financial year begins, the ACNC is urging charities to ensure they are still working towards their stated purposes by reviewing their governing document.

Charities are responsible for ensuring they maintain eligibility for registration which includes meeting their obligations to the ACNC and fulfilling their charitable purpose.

“Over the lifecycle of a charity, if it is successful and grows, its activities may also expand, which is great,” ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns says. “However, it is important that charities don’t drift away from their purposes inadvertently.

“A charity’s activities and programs should reflect its documented purposes.”

He says a charity’s governing document is a critical north star guiding its activities. Responsible People and staff should be familiar with their charity’s governing document and ensure that its objects reflect its stated mission.

“Drafting your governing document is not a set and forget activity,” he says. “Charities must ensure they are staying true to their purposes.”

Data from the Australian Charities Report seventh edition showed that many charities on the ACNC Charity Register have been in operation for decades, on average 32 years.

“The longevity of many charities is very heartening,” he says. “But it also highlights the need for charities to ensure that activities stay on track in the long term.”

Charities should also check that the information the ACNC holds about them is accurate and up to date, by logging into the Charity Portal.

In addition, charities can check on the ACNC website that their current activities and purposes match their charity subtype.

Charity Free 3D Hands explains how it updated its governing document in this Charity Chat podcast.

As part of its regular regulatory work, the ACNC reviews charities entitlement to registration.

"The Charity Register is an important tool for demonstrating transparency which helps maintain public trust and confidence in the sector. Each charity’s record on the Register is a window into its core mission," Dr Johns says.

“With 4.7 million searches of the Register in the last 12 months, it is vital that we provide accurate information to people searching for charities.”