As regular readers of this column will know, in June I was in Canberra for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the ACNC and Access Canberra regarding a significant reduction in red tape for registered charities in the ACT.

Since then, we have contacted registered charities in the ACT to explain these changes in partnership with Access Canberra.

This Thursday we will be visiting Canberra to talk to charities that are incorporated or fundraise in the ACT about the recent legislative changes.

Charities are invited to come and hear Assistant Commissioner David Locke explain the reforms and highlight how the ACT’s registered charities will benefit from the arrangements.

You can find full details on the event, and register for free here.

Appointment of new members to the ACNC Advisory Board

Last week the Minister responsible for the ACNC, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Hon Michael Sukkar MP, announced the appointment of Dr Susan Alberti AC and Mr Peter Hogan as general members of the ACNC Advisory Board for a period of three years.

In his statement, Minister Sukkar said that “these appointments continue to add to the high level of skills and experience available to advise the ACNC Commissioner, ensuring that the ACNC Advisory Board has appropriately qualified members to deal with the variety of issues raised in the charities and not-for-profit sectors”.

The Advisory Board meets every quarter, with the next meeting to be held on Friday 22 September 2017 in Sydney.

We look forward to meeting with the new Advisory Board members.

You can read more about the Advisory Board at acnc.gov.au/advisoryboard.

Double Defaulters

The ACNC has issued 190 registered charities with a notice of intention to revoke charity status. Despite many reminders, these charities have failed to submit two Annual Information Statements.

We have published the list of potential double defaulters at acnc.gov.au/doubledefaulters.

You will notice that many of those at risk are small religious charities, and parents and citizens associations. In addition to sending numerous reminders directly to these charities, we have worked with the relevant peak bodies to try and get the message out.

Unfortunately we have been unable to reach them, or they have twice failed to complied with their obligations, despite multiple public and personal reminders.

If you are involved with one of the charities or know someone who is, please contact the ACNC immediately.

These charities have until 12 September to lodge their outstanding Annual Information Statements. Those that fail to do so will have their status revoked as of 13 September, and will therefore lose access to Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

2016 Annual Information Statement errors

It is very important that the information that charities report to the ACNC is accurate and up to date. The information charities provide is made available to members of the public on the Charity Register, Australia’s free, searchable, online database of charities.

We are sending notices to around 1,500 charities that we believe made errors in their 2016 Annual Information Statement.

If you received one of these emails and are yet to correct the information provided in your annual reporting, please make this a priority for your charity.

New ACNC podcasts

This week we published the fifth in our new series of podcasts, ACNC Charity Chat.

In this episode, Assistant Commissioner Murray Baird is back to discuss charities and administration costs. The discussion examines the need to spend money on administration, the difficulties in measuring administration costs, and why it is crucial for charities that employ staff to be able to pay them.

I was pleased to be the guest on episodes two and three, where I discussed the size and significance of the charity sector, the types of organisations that comprise it, the generosity of the Australian public, and whether there are too many charities in Australia.

You can subscribe to ACNC Charity Chat on iTunes, or listen on our website at acnc.gov.au/podcast.

Upcoming webinar – Tuesday 22 August

Over 250 people have already registered for the ACNC’s next free webinar, which will be held at 12pm AEST on Tuesday 22 August.

The webinar will explore ways that charities can avoid pitfalls and stay out of trouble, and will include specific examples of common compliance issues, such as conflicts of interest, private benefit and poor record-keeping. We'll also provide practical tips on how to manage and avoid these pitfalls.

If you have missed one of our recent webinars, for example our guide to running a charity, don’t worry: you can watch them on-demand on our website.

You can find the recordings of our past webinars and sign up for future webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Planned system improvements

As you may be aware, the ACNC is making considerable improvements across all our IT services.

The end result for these planned improvements will be faster and more reliable digital services across the ACNC website, Charity Register, online forms and Charity Portal.

These changes are a necessary part of our continual improvements to the services we offer charities and the general public.

We appreciate your patience for any temporary disruption this causes to our digital services in the coming weeks.

New research: Whistling while they work

Griffith University’s Centre for Governance and Public Policy is now in the main phase of a three-year research project to assess organisational responses to whistleblowing in the public and private sectors.

The Centre’s Survey of Organisational Processes and Procedures is now open. All types of organisations, including charities and not-for-profits, can participate.

For more information on the survey, and how to be involved, visit whistlingwhiletheywork.edu.au.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM