After publishing my column, news of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke's passing was shared.

I had the privilege of serving in the Parliament with Bob Hawke PM.

He was a magnificent leader, a truly great Australian.

We shall miss him.

Vale Bob Hawke.

Contrary to the rumours, I am pleased to announce that the latest edition of our annual Australian Charities Report will be published early next week.

The Australian Charities Report 2017 is a more succinct summary of the ACNC’s annual analysis of the information we receive from charities. This year we have focused on making the data more accessible to the broader public. I hope you enjoy the new format and find the report to be informative, without being overwhelming.

While I encourage you to read the full report when it becomes available, there are a few key insights I found to be particularly interesting:

  • The number of Australians who volunteered for a registered charity in 2017 increased by 400,000.
  • For the second consecutive year, charities reported an increase in combined revenue.
  • This increase is likely attributable to additional government funding – compared to the 2016 report, government grants and contracts as a revenue source increased by $7 billion.
  • While donations and bequests decreased slightly compared to the 2016 report, Australians are still incredibly generous - nearly $10 billion was donated in 2017.

The full report will be available on the ACNC website at in the coming days. I look forward to sharing more of the fascinating insights with you then.

I would also like to thank the team at the ACNC who have worked tirelessly over the last six months to analyse the data, and write, design and publish the report. They have done a fantastic job. There is a genuine commitment within the ACNC to support the sector through guidance, education and information.

We will continue to make information charities provide to the ACNC available to the sector and the public through the Charity Register, the Australian Charities Report, and our presence on

My commitment to the sector

When I accepted the position of Commissioner of the ACNC, I promised the then-Minister, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, that I would visit regional and rural Australia, to support local charities.

In the first 18 months of my tenure, in addition to meeting a wide range of charities and people in metropolitan areas, I have had the privilege of travelling to regional communities including Warwick, Tenterfield, Guyra, Grafton, Tuggerah, Ballina, Armidale, Mildura, Echuca, and Shepperton.

This financial year I have had met with 40 charities and have spoken at more than 20 sector events.

Just this week I visited Geelong, Ballarat, Armidale, Port Macquarie and Newcastle.

I enjoy meeting with charities because it gives me a chance to hear their story. It is fascinating to see, first-hand, the breadth of the work being done by charities across the country.

I look forward to visiting many more charities in regional and rural areas throughout the remainder of my term as Commissioner.

If you would like to share your story, please let our Communications team know. We may be able to organise a visit, or alternatively, you could participate in our regular ‘Getting to know’ feature. You can email them at

The Election and your charity

The 2019 Federal Election is just days away. For many not-for-profits, the focus will be on setting up the BBQ for the traditional election day sausage sizzle.

However, for some, including registered charities, the planned activities may be more political in nature.

After the last Federal Election, we received many complaints from concerned members of the public regarding the conduct of charities. Of great concern was charities handing out ‘how to vote’ cards.

Our guide, Charities, elections and advocacy, which is available on our website, clearly sets out the ACNC’s expectations regarding such activities.

The guide includes a FAQ section, which answers many of the common questions charities and the public may have, for example:

Q: Should a charity distribute how–to–vote cards on election day for a candidate or party?
A: No, because the charity will run the risk of being found to have a purpose of promoting or opposing a political party or candidate for political office, which is a disqualifying purpose.

If your charity has activities planned for election day, beyond hosting a BBQ, it is important that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities. I encourage you to read Charities, elections and advocacy before you act.

Annual Information Statement

A reminder that charities who report on a calendar year (January to December) have until 30 June 2019 to submit their 2018 Annual Information Statement.

To submit the Annual Information Statement, charities will need to log into the new Charity Portal at

If you have not logged into the Charity Portal since October 2018, your username and password will have changed. Visit for further instructions on how to log in.

More information about the 2018 Annual Information Statement, including a helpful checklist and guide, is available on the ACNC website at

I encourage charities to submit their 2018 Annual Information Statement as soon as possible to beat the last-minute rush.


Our next free webinar is on Commonwealth charity tax concessions and DGR endorsement. It will be presented in conjunction with our colleagues at the ATO.

This is always a popular webinar, so book now to secure your spot via the ACNC website.

Even if you cannot attend on Thursday 23 May, you can register and receive the webinar via email after we record it.

The ATO will also be hosting a webinar in the coming weeks that may be of interest to some charities. The webinar, held on Tuesday 4 June, will be on the topic of animal welfare funds. You can find further information or register for this free webinar here.

Finally, Not-for-profit Law host a range of webinars that may be of interest to charities. The next two webinars are:

  • ‘Protecting your volunteers and organisation from unlawful workplace behaviours’ held on Tuesday 21 May; and
  • ‘We’re All in This Together – Employees, Volunteers and the Law Webinar’ held on Tuesday 18 June.

Not-for-profit Law is itself an NFP organisation, however, there is a small fee charged for these webinars. If you are interested, you can find out more information and register your attendance here.

Best wishes,

The Hon Dr Gary Johns