Recently, my colleagues and I met with the team at the Productivity Commission working on the review of philanthropy. It was a great discussion, diving quickly into what the ACNC has seen from its first decade and what support (for example, with our data) we can give to this important review. Growing funding for charities is core to sustainability, so within the ACNC’s objects to care about!
The Productivity Commission’s terms of reference are broad, and their ears are open so I would encourage charities and other not-for-profits groups to consider putting in a submission and to engage in the various discussion forums. I am pleased that after our meeting, Associate Commissioner Krystian Seibert spoke at one of our all-staff meetings about the background and review process. He acknowledged that while people may feel weary of reviews and inquiries, they lay the groundwork that eventually facilitates practical solutions. The ACNC, and the Charities Act that we rely on to make our determinations, and the most recent progress on the harmonisation of fundraising laws can all be traced back to an earlier Productivity Commission review.
While the ACNC does not regulate fundraising or set policy with respect to philanthropy, we support a culture of giving through our core work, especially in maintaining the Charity Register.
The Charity Register supports the enhancement of public trust, confidence, and awareness in the sector by giving prospective philanthropists, donors, and the public an understanding of a charity’s accountability and purpose. It provides useful information about whether organisations are up to date with their reporting obligations, the names of the people managing a charity’s governance, their current sources of funding and size, and whether their purposes and activities align with the causes people want to support.
The data that charities submit via their Annual Information Statements is used to populate the Charity Register and to produce our annual analysis of the sector, the Australian Charities Report. The 9th edition of this report will be out in the coming months. This time we have a spotlight on giving and philanthropy, drawing on data provided by Australia’s grant making charities.
During times of major disasters, and peak giving times, we promote the importance of safe giving and to warn donors not to succumb to fake charity scams. We actively run these campaigns to encourage people to check the Charity Register to ensure they donate to charities that are accountable and transparent.
In all these ways, the ACNC contributes to maintaining and building public trust in the charity sector and to raising awareness about the vital work of charities – key drivers for growing philanthropic giving.
I look forward to the Productivity Commission reporting its findings from the review of philanthropy in May 2024. The ACNC will continue to support a culture of giving, as the sector prepares for changes that may come from the policy goal to double philanthropic giving by 2030.
In the meantime, I urge you to read more about the review’s Terms of Reference and consider making a submission by Friday 5 May 2023.
Sue Woodward AM