Recently I had the chance to speak at the Volunteering Queensland Conference in Brisbane. In my address, I discussed the importance of strong boards for strong not-for-profit organisations.

With the right people, a strong board can offer immense value – in terms of strategic direction, compliance with rules and meeting governance requirements. I also highlighted important resources, guidelines and principles available for organisations working with volunteers. You can find more on good governance at acnc.gov.au/governancestandards.

The conference also gave me the opportunity to speak to some of Queensland’s many dedicated and hard-working volunteers. The Australian Charities Report 2015 revealed that 2.97 million volunteers are engaged in the charity sector, with four out of five charities relying on some volunteer support.

In the next few months I will be travelling around the country to meet with other people engaged in the charity sector. Commencing tomorrow in Melbourne, the ACNC is hosting a series of faith-based charity roundtables. You can read more about these roundtables below.

Reminder: 2016 Annual Information Statements due now for many charities

Thousands of charities that report on a calendar year (from 1 January to 31 December) are required to submit their Annual Information Statement before 30 June.

Around 57% of these charities have already submitted their Annual Information Statement, and I am grateful to them for filing early. The community and donors now have access to up to date information on those charities that have filed.

The remaining 43% now only have 10 days to do so. Please do not leave it to the last minute as our phones get very busy, and as you would expect, our IT systems are slower when there is very heavy traffic.

To help registered charities submit their Annual Information Statement, we have published a range of guidance materials, which you can access free of charge at acnc.gov.au/2016AIS.

You can also contact our friendly Advice Services team by calling 13 ACNC (13 22 62) or by email at advice@acnc.gov.au.

ACNC hosting faith-based charity roundtables around Australia

The ACNC is travelling the country over the next few months to meet with a variety of faith-based organisations.

Assistant Commissioner Murray Baird and I will visit capital cities between June and August to bring together leaders representing the breadth of faith-based charities, to discuss the issues concerning their members and their organisations, as we did in 2015.

Later this year we will also be meeting with charities that represent culturally and linguistically diverse communities. I will provide an update on those sessions, which will be held in each capital city, in the coming months.

Charities risk revocation for failing to report

Over 100 charities are at risk of revocation for failing to submit two Annual Information Statements. These charities have until 24 June to submit their outstanding reports. If their charity status is revoked, they will lose access to generous Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

We have tried many times to contact these charities, however this has proved difficult as we have received returned mail notifications and bounce backs to emails.

I encourage donors, volunteers and members of the public to check the list, and if they are associated with one of the charities, or know someone who is, to please contact the ACNC immediately.

Registered charities at risk of revocation can be found at acnc.gov.au/doubledefaulters.

Donate wisely this end of financial year

As the end of the financial year approaches, I am urging members of the public to donate wisely.

If you’re thinking about donating to a charity, I encourage you to first search the Charity Register. The Charity Register is free to search and contains information about a charity’s activities, beneficiaries, financial details and more.

You can search the Charity Register on our website at acnc.gov.au/charityregister.

The ACNC’s Registered Charity Tick is another way for members of the public to easily determine if a charity is registered with the ACNC.

Since its launch in December 2016, more than 8,000 charities have downloaded and begun to display the Registered Charity Tick. The charity tick is designed to reassure the public, at a glance, that a charity is registered, accountable and committed to transparency.

Government releases DGR discussion paper

The Commonwealth Government has released a discussion paper on potential changes to the deductible gift recipient (DGR) status system. The proposed changes aim to strengthen governance arrangements, reduce complexity and ensure that eligibility is kept up to date.

There are approximately 28,000 DGR organisations in Australia, of which 20,500 are registered charities (according to the findings of the Australian Charities Report 2015).

One significant proposed reform would require all DGR recipients to be registered with the ACNC. This would have a number of benefits, for example:

  • The increased credibility and transparency that comes with being a registered charity and therefore having a listing on the ACNC’s Charity Register
  • Access to the Charity Passport – our ‘report once, use often’ framework
  • Other red tape reduction initiatives, including streamlined reporting across jurisdictions
  • Regulation under a set of core, minimum, governance standards, which are the basis for strong internal governance within an organisation
  • The free education, guidance and support offered by the ACNC

There are many other proposed reforms, so I encourage all interested parties to read the discussion paper and make a submission by 14 July 2017.

For more information, or to make a submission, visit treasury.gov.au.

NSW: nominate your local volunteers

Volunteers play a critical role in the Australian charity sector. According to the findings in the Australian Charities Report 2015, almost half of all registered charities are run solely by volunteers.

The ABS (2015a) indicated that volunteers in not-for-profit institutions (including charities) provided over $17.3 billion of unpaid labour in 2012–13.

It is important to recognise the enormous benefits that volunteers bring to the charity sector. The Centre for Volunteering has just opened nominations for the 2017 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.

The annual awards program was launched in 2007 and recognises the outstanding efforts of volunteers in NSW, and promotes the importance of volunteering to the community.

Nominations close 14 July. You can find more information and nominate at volunteering.com.au/volunteer-awards.

Upcoming webinar – Tuesday 18 July

The ACNC’s next free webinar will be held at midday on Tuesday 18 July.

The webinar, titled The ACNC and the ATO – charity tax concessions and endorsement, will be run jointly with our colleagues at the Australian Tax Office. It is a great chance to learn more about charity tax concessions, DGR and the relationship between the ACNC and the ATO.

You can sign up for free at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

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.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM