Last fortnight, I mentioned that we are collating resources to help charities navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19.
We are continuing to update our COVID-19 webpage as information becomes available.
I recommend charities keep an eye on our COVID page and use it as the first place to find information regarding charity operations and COVID-19 implications.
The most recent update included the announcement last week that the Australian Government passed legislation to introduce JobKeeper payments to a range of businesses, including registered charities, that meet certain criteria.
The Australian Taxation Office is overseeing the stimulus package and has published information on its website.
In the coming days more detailed information will be published on the ATO website.
Supporting charities during the COVID-19 crisis
We have received enquiries from people wanting to know how they can support charities during this difficult time, when some are severely affected either due to a sudden increase in demand or have had to close parts of their operations due to the current restrictions in place. I would like to draw your attention to a couple of options.
For people with financial resources to support charities, the Australian Communities Foundation and Philanthropy Australia have partnered to provide a national funding platform to coordinate the philanthropic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On this site charities can register their COVID-19-related funding needs so that individual donors and philanthropic funders can understand the granting opportunities available and respond to the critical needs of the sector.
If you are someone who is interested in volunteering your time, check for opportunities with your state or territory volunteering peak body, or ask your local charity how you can help. Remember some charities may not be able to support volunteering due to current restrictions, so always check with them how you can best support their work.
Advice phone line
We recently had to close our advice phone line as we navigate the challenges of operating this service while our staff work from home.
We are testing options to ensure the stability of the phone service and hope to provide you with an update shortly.
In the meantime, we are working hard to respond to your online enquiries and you can contact us via our online enquiry form.
We thank you for your understanding and continued patience.
New resources for charities
Last week we published tips for charities that are considering holding meetings remotely, whether that is due to the current COVID-19 restrictions or as a longer-term option.
Our tips and considerations include making sure your charity’s rules allow you to hold remote meetings, considering the costs involved and understanding the need to providing notice to attendees.
I encourage anyone involved in running a charity that is considering holding a meeting remotely to read our tips and considerations in full.
Annual Information Statements
I wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone that charities with a 2019 Annual Information Statement (AIS) due between 12 March and 30 August 2020 have been granted an extension.
These charities will now need to submit their AIS by 31 August 2020. This advice will be monitored as the COVID-19 crisis progresses.
However, I do realise many people are using their time at home to submit their charity’s Annual Information Statement.
If you are logging in to the Charity Portal for the first time or have forgotten your password, there are instructions available here.
On that page, there is also information about one of our most commonly asked questions. This question relates to the individual’s charity/charities not showing up on their log in page. We have detailed instructions under the heading ‘Can't see charity name in Portal’ to resolve this issue.
There is also information to help you complete your charity’s AIS on our 2019 Annual Information Statement Hub page.
With the current situation regarding COVID-19, our regularly scheduled webinars have been placed on hold.
We hope to have these back up and running soon. In the meantime, we are working on some practical podcasts to help charities navigate operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Check our website and read my column for more updates on both of these. We will update you when we can.
The Hon Dr Gary Johns