Since my last column I was fortunate enough to travel to Brisbane for the launch of a new book that discusses charity regulation in Common Law countries.

Charting 25 Years of Charity Regulation was edited by Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, the founding director of the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at the Queensland University of Technology Business School, and Bob Wyatt, the executive director of Canada’s Muttart Foundation.

Professor McGregor-Lowndes has devoted his career to the study of the not-for-profit sector here in Australia, and has been an ACNC Advisory Board member since 2012.

Having written a chapter for the book on the story of the ACNC, I was pleased to be included amongst contributors from charity regulators and policy reformers from across the world.

If you are interested in comparative analyses of the not-for-profit sector, both here and abroad, you will likely enjoy this book.

Reduced red tape for ACT’s charities

I am very pleased to announce the passage of legislation in the ACT that will significantly reduce red tape for registered charities.

Today the ACT Legislative Assembly passed the Red Tape Reduction Legislation Amendment Bill, which will streamline fundraising and other reporting requirements for ACNC-registered charities in the ACT. The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2017.

The changes mean that ACNC-registered charities that fundraise in the ACT will no longer require licenses to do so. They also will no longer need to report annually to Access Canberra, and will be exempt from regulation under the ACT Charitable Collections Act.

The ACT’s incorporated associations that are registered with ACNC will also benefit from reduced reporting requirements. Specifically incorporated associations that are registered charities will no longer be required to:

  • Provide annual returns to Access Canberra
  • Meet audit requirements if revenue is under $250,000 (the ACNC Act’s threshold for a small charity), and
  • Notify Access Canberra of changes to address for service or contact details.

Instead registered charities that are incorporated associations in the ACT will provide this information to the ACNC.

We will be writing to registered charities in the ACT to explain these changes in partnership with Access Canberra shortly. However, in the meantime you can find more information on the ACT Government website.

This is yet another step in the right direction, and I want to assure you that the ACNC continues to engage in discussions with officials across Commonwealth and state and territory governments to reduce red tape for registered charities. Significant progress has already been made in Tasmania, South Australia, and more recently, Victoria.

I am hopeful that announcements of partnerships with other jurisdictions are not far away. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about our red tape reduction progress, visit acnc.gov.au/redtapereduction.

The ACNC is coming to Perth

The ACNC Executive team – myself and Assistant Commissioners David Locke and Murray Baird – often travel across the country to meet with charities, government agencies and peak bodies. We do this to ensure that even though we are based in Melbourne, we are accessible and available to all in the sector.

As the national regulator of such a diverse sector, we feel this is important.

To this end, I’ll be making two trips to Perth in the next few months – from 31 July to 3 August, and from 11 to 14 September.

I am inviting charities and peak bodies in Perth that would like to meet during my upcoming visits to get in touch.

I will be speaking at the National Disability Service State Conference in Perth from 11 to 12 September. I’d love to see you there!

If you can’t make it to the Conference, I still have some open times in my diary to meet with representatives from the not-for-profit sector.

Australia’s biggest philanthropic donation

The announcement last week of Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s $400 million donation set a new benchmark for philanthropic giving in Australia.

The ACNC Advisory Board Chair, Tony Stuart, and I were delighted by the news of this extraordinarily generous philanthropic gift. You can read Tony’s comments here.

This donation, the largest ever in this country by living donors, will make a real difference to the not-for-profit sector, and will benefit thousands, if not millions of Australians over time.

Every donation makes a difference – no matter how big or small. If you would like to contribute to a registered charity, either financially or by volunteering, you can search the ACNC’s Charity Register at acnc.gov.au/findacharity.

Charities risk revocation for failing to report

Over 100 charities are at risk of double defaulting for failing to submit two Annual Information Statements.

While trying to contact this group of potential double defaulter charities, we received returned mail notifications.

We often find that double defaulter charities have simply closed or wound up without notifying us.

However, we want to offer those charities that are still operating every opportunity to maintain their ACNC registration.

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.

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.

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

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.

If you’re not sure if your charity has submitted its 2016 Annual Information Statement, you can log into the Charity Portal at charity.acnc.gov.au to confirm your submission or check your due date.

We’ve published a range of free resources to assist charities in submitting their Annual Information Statements. These can be found at acnc.gov.au/2016AIS.

We are also running a free webinar on 20 June on completing the 2016 Annual Information Statement. To learn more, or to register, visit acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Catch up on previous 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 you can also sign up for future webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

If you do take the time to watch or participate in one of our webinars, we’d appreciate your feedback. After each webinar there is a link to complete a short survey, or you can always email our education and guidance team directly at education@acnc.gov.au.

My five year term ends on 30 September

As you may have seen last week, my term as Commissioner of the ACNC will come to an end on 30 September 2017. This date marks the end of my five year contract.

It has and continues to be an honour to serve as the inaugural ACNC Commissioner. On a daily basis I am inspired by the hard working people who dedicate their lives to the Australian not-for-profit sector for the benefit of others.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the sector for their support over the past five years, through the establishment of the ACNC, including when the future of the organisation was uncertain.

The ACNC Advisory Board Chair, Mr Tony Stuart, published some remarks on this matter on Thursday last week. You can read those here.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM