Today marks the second birthday of the ACNC. We at the ACNC are proud of what has been achieved in such a short space of time and I would like to thank thesector for their continued support. You can read more about the highlights and achievements of the ACNC’s first full year of operation in our 2013-14 Annual Report.

Safe giving this festive season

The season of giving is now upon us and many charities around Australia will be gearing up for the busy Christmas period ahead. Public donations tend toincrease during this time, however unfortunately this also aligns with an increase in charity scams.

As part of our role in promoting public trust and confidence, the ACNC is running a public awareness campaign from this week, educating the public aboutsafe giving. We are encouraging the public to give generously to charities and we will be promoting the ACNC Charity Register as a free, easy-to-use resource that not only allows users to check the legitimacyof a charity, but also who the charity benefits, and where they operate. The Register has already received over 500 000 views and we expect its popularityto grow substantially in 2015 when financial information from more charities becomes available through 2014 Annual Information Statement data.

2014 Annual Information Statement

If your charity uses a standard reporting period of 1 July – 30 June, then 31 December is the deadline for submission of your 2014 Annual InformationStatement. However, we encourage you to submit as soon as possible before the ACNC’s Christmas close down from 24 December – 2 January. Submitting now willalso mean your charity’s entry will be up-to-date, ensuring your charity is viewed favourably by the public if they search the Register during theChristmas period.

Remember that completing your 2014 is a statutory obligation. It is very important that you comply as the ACNC will revoke the charity status of thosecharities that fail to complete both their 2013 and 2014 Annual Information Statements. These charities will have a ‘red mark’ on their charity’s entry onthe Register and risk losing Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

Charities can find guidance on the 2014 Annual Information Statement at acnc.gov.au/2014AIS and submit throughthe Charity Portal.

If you have forgotten your password, you can now reset it yourself at acnc.gov.au/forgotten_password. The new four-step process means a responsible person, authorised person or an agent of a charity canregain Charity Portal access in a matter of minutes. Charities are no longer required to phone or email the ACNC in order to reset their password.Charities will need to provide their ABN, contact details and will also need to be able to answer a number of questions about their charity. The ACNC willuse these answers to confirm the user is authorised to reset the password on the charity's behalf.

Take the ACNC charity health check

In the overwhelming majority of cases, charities want to do the right thing. One of the most common questions the ACNC gets asked by charities is whetherthey are meeting their obligations. To help charities ensure they are meeting ACNC obligations, we have put together the ACNC charity health check. It’s interactive and gives you useful tipsto help you meet your obligations. I encourage you to take the testas soon as possible so you can work to rectify any problems now and get the New Year off to a good start.

Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement: Provision of housing by charities

A number of charities provide housing as part of their activities. For any organisations working in this field, or advising charities that do so, there isnow a Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement on this issue. Commissioner’s Interpretation Statements provide guidance to ACNC staff, charities and thepublic on how the ACNC understands the law that applies to charities. These statements reflect our current understanding of the law on charity and arebinding on ACNC staff. Following input from a range of stakeholders, the Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement: Provision of housing by charities, hasnow been finalised and published online. I encourage anyone with an interest in charitable housing to review it.

Exposure draft - Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement: Health Promotion Charities

We have now also issued the exposure draft of the Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement on health promotion charities for public discussion. The draftaims to provide guidance to the public on the meaning and scope of the charity sub-type of ‘health promotion charity’ (HPC). Again, anyone with an interestin the area should view ithereand email comments to CIS@acnc.gov.au by 15 February 2015.

Banking institutions and ACNC information

The ACNC has written to the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) after receiving advice from charities that some banking institutions were not aware ofthe ACNC when seeking verification of a charity’s status or governance details.

This verification issue has happened when the charities have endeavoured to seek concessions or other discounts offered by banks, or when charities areinvolved in loans.

Assistant Commissioner General Counsel Murray Baird wrote to the ABA, advising of existence of the ACNC Charity Register as the authoritative, publicly available source of charity information. He alsoexplained to them that ASIC no longer has a role in maintaining records of registered bodies or companies that are registered as charitable organisationswith the ACNC.

The ABA has confirmed it has raised this matter with senior retail banking representatives.

As the national regulator, we are keen to support charities in meeting their objectives. Should charities continue to experience difficulties with banks orother agencies and institutions unaware of the material available on ACNC Charity Register, please do nothesitate to contact the ACNC via email at advice@acnc.gov.au or phone on 13 ACNC (13 22 62).

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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