2015 Annual Information Statements

With the end of January, the due date for the 2015 Annual Information Statement passed for many charities. We were pleased to see that the majority of charities submitted their statements on time.

Of the 30 000 charities that were required to submit an AIS by the end of January, more than 20 000 charities have done so. This represents a timely submission rate of more than 70 per cent.

The Australian public expects charities to be well-run and transparent, and providing your charity's AIS on time demonstrates a commitment to this. The statements are published on the ACNC Register so that the people who benefit from your charity, supporters, donors, volunteers and the public at large can see clearly how your charity is run and what it does.

Although the majority of charities submitted on time, there remains a significant minority that haven’t submitted their 2015 AIS yet. These charities run the risk of having red overdue marks placed against their profiles on the public Charity Register, and then potentially penalties or a loss of registration. If charities do not file their reports on time, the public may draw adverse conclusions about how they are governed more generally. I urge the charities that haven’t submitted their 2015 AIS to do so as soon as possible.

Double Defaulters

Charities that fail to complete two Annual Information Statements become what we call ‘double defaulters’ and face immediate risk of losing their charity registration.

Over 2 000 charities have failed to provide both a 2014 and a 2015 Annual Information Statement. Next week these charities will receive formal notices from us of our intention to revoke their charity registration if they do not complete all of their outstanding obligations as a matter of utmost urgency.

If you are unsure of the reporting status of your charity, I encourage you to check by logging in to the Charity Portal at charity.acnc.gov.au, or by viewing your charity’s entry on the Charity Register at acnc.gov.au/findacharity. Both will display the current reporting status of your charity. If you find that your charity has fallen behind in its reporting, it is crucial that you complete all the outstanding requirements. If you need assistance with this, even to determine what requirements have been missed, please contact us at advice@acnc.gov.au or on 13 22 62.

ACNC and ASIC Registers

I am pleased to announce that we have been working closely with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to resolve lingering problems regarding the information on both the ACNC and the ASIC registers. We know this has caused great difficulty for many charities.

Prior to the establishment of the ACNC, charitable companies were required to lodge reports with ASIC and notify ASIC of common changes to the charity. However, this requirement changed with the establishment of the ACNC – over three years ago now.

Since December 2012, charitable companies, which account for around 10 per cent of all registered charities, have been required to report to the ACNC. This includes notifying of changes to the charity’s details such as its address and members of the board.

With the ACNC being responsible for all charities, anyone who wants to check the details of charitable companies should use the ACNC Charity Register, not the ASIC Companies Register, for accurate and up-to-date information. There will very soon be a link on the ASIC Register through to the ACNC Register. We are writing to all charities that are companies to explain the arrangements agreed with ASIC and are undertaking a communications campaign to educate bankers associations, banks and professional advisers.

We have detailed guidance for charitable companies at www.acnc.gov.au/clg.

Webinars available online

Our webinar program is proving to be very popular again this year with great interest in our first two. If you ever miss a webinar that you wanted to attend, you can always view the recording on the ACNC website at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Our first webinar of 2016 was an in-depth look at the Australian Charities Report 2014 and the data available online. You can now view this webinar on our website along with previous webinars. Our February webinar focused on what you need to do before you register a charity with the ACNC, and will soon be available online.

Our next webinar is on 8 March and is designed for new charity board or committee members. It will go through the role of the charity board member and present some important things you need to know and do. If you’re interested in joining us for this webinar, register at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Child Protection Toolkit

Finally, I was impressed to read the new Child Protection Toolkit created by Moore’s Legal and Our Community. It is a great free resource which promotes child safety and helps not-for-profit organisations understand their obligations and responsibilities, and confidently work within the legislation in this area.

Importantly, the toolkit is very accessible. It is designed to be read by people involved in not-for-profits that work with children, including schools, child care centres, and P and C associations, among others. I encourage you to download a copy and read it if your charity works with children.

For charities that do work with children, child safety is vitally important and should be the responsibility of everyone involved. It is important that charity boards, staff and volunteers are aware of the issues and can be confident they are acting appropriately.

Thanks to Moore’s Legal and Our Community for a wonderful resource. It is available to download from Our Community’s Institute of Community Directors.

Good wishes,

Susan Pascoe AM

Contact us

Our phone number is 13 ACNC (13 22 62) or you can email us at advice@acnc.gov.au.

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