This fortnight I write to you as I prepare to travel to Queensland for this quarter’s Advisory Board meeting, being held in Cairns. This follows another of the ACNC’s faith-based charity roundtables in Brisbane, which brought together a dozen leaders from charities that advance religion.

We have already hosted discussions in Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney, and further sessions are planned in Adelaide and Perth. These sessions have been a great opportunity to hear directly from representatives of the largest group of charities, learn about their issues and concerns, and provide them with an update of activities at the ACNC.

New ACNC podcast

Last week I was pleased to be the guest on the second episode of our new podcast, ACNC Charity Chat. In this episode Matthew and I discuss the charity sector in Australia – its size and significance, the types of organisations that form the not-for-profit sector in Australia, and more.

I am also the guest on Episode 3, as Matthew and I sit down to discuss whether there are too many charities in Australia, highlighting the great diversity in our sector and its activities.

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

Reminder: submit your Annual Information Statement to avoid penalties

Over 90% of charities have submitted their 2016 Annual Information Statement – leaving only 4,600 outstanding.

This is a significant improvement compared to the same time last year, and I thank the vast majority of charities for taking their reporting obligations seriously and filing on time. You are providing donors, grant-makers, researchers and others with timely information on your charity.

Those that remain outstanding risk financial penalties of up to $5250, and we have begun issuing warning notices to charities that are now six months overdue.

To ensure you charity is up to date with its annual reporting obligations, simply log into the Charity Portal at charity.acnc.gov.au.

Read more about our approach to issuing penalties to late filers at acnc.gov.au/penalties.

New guidance for charities on board remuneration

While most board members of charities are unpaid and give their time freely as volunteers, in some charities the board members are remunerated for their time and expertise.

Whether or not to pay board members is an important consideration for charities, and one that depends on the unique circumstances of each charity. Ultimately, the decision rests on whether paying board members is in the best interests of the charity.

Our new guide – Remunerating Charity Board Members – provides an overview of issues relating to board remuneration, as well as some of the factors charities need to properly consider when making a decision on whether to pay board members for their duties.

I encourage all charities to read this guidance and discuss the issue at their next board meeting.

Charities can download the new guidance on the ACNC website at acnc.gov.au/boardremuneration.

Recent compliance activity

At the ACNC, we take a proportionate approach to compliance, and have a range of regulatory powers available to us – including guidance and support, warnings, directions, enforceable undertakings and revocation.

Last week, we published notification that the ACNC has agreed to enter a second enforceable undertaking with registered charity the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC).

The revocation of charity status is reserved for the most serious of cases. On Monday, we announced the revocation of the charity status of two organisations, following investigations into their activities and operations.

The two organisations, African Australian Network Ltd (ABN: 33158042696) and Global Helping Hands – Australia (ABN: 59138471787) will now lose access to Commonwealth charity tax concessions, including GST concession, income tax exemptions and FBT rebates. Both organisations will also lose their Deductible Gift Recipient status.

A full list of the ACNC’s compliance activity can be found on our website at acnc.gov.au/compliancedecisions.

ACNC and ATO co-host webinar on tax deductions

Yesterday, the ACNC Education team hosted a webinar with our colleagues at the Australian Taxation Office, about charity tax concessions and DGR endorsements.

This webinar was just one in a series of informative webinars our team have hosted recently, containing important information for all registered charities about compliance, registration, and meeting your obligations to the ACNC.

If you missed a webinar of interest, or would like to refer back to the information provided, we have made all completed webinars available to view on our website at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

You can also sign up for future webinars. Our next session is about avoiding charity pitfalls, and will be held on Tuesday 22 August.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM