On Monday I was in Sydney for meetings and stopped in Martin Place early in the morning to take a photo of the Christmas tree to send to my grandchildren. A couple of hours later a lone armed man laid siege to a café right near where I stood. This event has a tragic ending for the families who have lost loved ones. Our hearts and prayers are with them.

No doubt discussion of the siege will dominate our own conversations and the media in the days ahead as we come to terms with this loss of innocence. However, it is the Christmas – New Year period, and I want to pay tribute to the many charities who care for the vulnerable and needy members of our community at this time of year, and for those who keep us safe during emergencies. Many of you are volunteers. You are the real spirit of Australia and we acknowledge our debt of gratitude to you. Thank you to all.

Extension to 2014 Annual Information Statement deadline for charities that use 1 July – 30 June reporting period

Last week I announced an extension to the 2014 Annual Information Statement submission deadline for charities that use a standard reporting period of 1 July – 30 June. These charities now have until 31 January 2015 to submit their 2014 Annual Information Statement.

The ACNC has provided this extension to account for the ACNC’s closure from midday 24 December 2014 to 2 January 2015, during which time the deadline initially fell. It is to ensure that the ACNC is available to assist those charities that we expect will leave their submissions until closer to the deadline.

The extension is also an acknowledgement that this is only the second time charities have had to report to the ACNC and also that some charities may need more time to understand the requirements of the 2014 Annual Information Statement, which involves providing some financial information. I would like to encourage charities that require assistance with the 2014 Annual Information Statement to access our thorough and detailed guidance available at acnc.gov.au/2014AIS. We have also streamlined the online submission process - when lodging through the Charity Portal, the 2014 Annual Information Statement will be pre-populated with data from the 2013 Annual Information Statement, making it easier and quicker to complete.

While we have extended the deadline, as we have said before, it is in charities’ best interests to lodge as soon as possible so that they their entry on the ACNC Charity Register (available at acnc.gov.au/findacharity) is up-to-date, particularly as we approach the height of the giving season. However, I would like to assure charities that they will not face any penalties for lodging their 2014 Annual Information Statement after 31 December 2014, so long as they do so by 31 January 2015.

Charities that have still not lodged their 2013 Annual Information Statement will have a ‘red mark’ on their charity’s entry on the Register and risk losing Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

I would like to reiterate that those that fail to complete both their 2013 and 2014 Annual Information Statements will have their charity status revoked. If you know any of these charities, please encourage them to contact us so we can help them with their submission. Guidance on the 2013 Annual Information Statement is available at acnc.gov.au/2013AIS.

I understand that some charities may have recently experienced some speed and technical issues accessing our website, including the Charity Portal which has made it difficult to lodge documents at peak times. We appreciate your understanding while we work to resolve these issues.

Template constitution for charitable companies limited by guarantee

Last week we released a template constitution and accompanying guide for small charitable companies limited by guarantee. The ACNC is committed to supporting charities to be healthy and sustainable and these latest free resources form part of our ongoing work to create a robust and vibrant charities sector. Ten per cent of registered charities are companies limited by guarantee and this template constitution provides these charities, particularly those with minimal resources, a set of rules to help them meet their legal requirements and form a strong foundation for their important charitable work. These resources are the result of extensive consultation – the ACNC consulted with the ATO, ASIC, the ACNC’s advisory board, specialist professional and sector user groups and small charities focus groups.

The new template constitution is designed to help small organisations with simple memberships that are:

  • a not-for-profit organisation that wants to incorporate as a company limited by guarantee and register as a charity with the ACNC
  • an existing company limited by guarantee that that wishes to become a charity registered with the ACNC, or
  • an existing company limited by guarantee that is a registered charity and wants to update its constitution.

We have already received a lot of positive feedback on the template including from small charities. Aaron Talbot, Chief Financial Officer at Nurse Teach Reach Inc., said:

Support from the ACNC means that Nurse Teach Reach Inc. is able to focus its attention and monetary assets towards its charitable purpose and not on expensive professional fees. Being a start-up charity without the support of a major foundation or government grant, the ACNC, through the production of this document, has greatly assisted Nurse Teach Reach Inc. along its journey of Charitable Status registration and ATO Endorsement.

The template constitution and guide is available at acnc.gov.au/clgconstitution.

Is your entry on the ACNC Charity Register up-to-date?

Having an up-to-date entry on ACNC Charity Register is never more important than during the festive season. We expect use of the ACNC Charity Register to increase as our public awareness campaign about safe giving continues to the end of the year.

Take a moment, and check whether your entry is up-to-date:

  • Have you updated your responsible people recently, since any new appointments?
  • Does it show that you’ve submitted your Annual Information Statements?
  • Do we have your governing documents (constitution, rules or deed)?
  • Do we have the right contact details, charity subtype, and reporting period listed?

Season’s Greetings

I would like to wish you and your families a restful break, and thank you for the passion and commitment to the work that you do. I look forward to working together again in 2015.
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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