Welcome to the Spring issue of the ACNC Quarterly.

ACNC Quarterly is your source of information about the charity sector, the ACNC, and tools to help your charity meet its obligations.

If you would your charity featured in Charity Chat in our next edition, email CharityChat@acnc.gov.au.

From the Commissioner

It has been a busy few months here at the ACNC, as we have been travelling around the country and meeting charities at our popular Ask ACNC sessions

The sessions have given us a chance to talk to charities about our work, discuss issues affecting the sector and to deliver financial training. We’ve also been fortunate to have guests from the Australian Taxation Office and presenters from state-based regulators at many of our events.

It’s been fantastic to meet so many people who are doing great work in the community, and we look forward to meeting more of you as our events continue into October. More than 2,500 people registered to attend the events nationwide – and for those of you who have already attended, thank you for your participation. If you could not attend an event in person, we’ll be hosting a special Ask ACNC webinar on 12 October, which you can attend online. More information about the remaining sessions is available on acnc.gov.au/webinars.

We aim to continually improve our services for charities and getting out and about for Ask ACNC has also given us the opportunity to consult with charities face to face on proposed changes to the 2017 Annual Information Statement.

Each year, since the first Annual Information Statement in 2013, the ACNC has consulted the sector on proposed.For the 2017 Annual Information Statement we are proposing changes to simplify and clarify the questions asked, and improve the collection process for charities.

The Annual Information Statement consultation is open until 6 October. For more information and to participate, visit acnc.gov.au/2017AISconsultation.

Thank you to all the charities, as well as sector peak bodies and advisory groups, who have provided us feedback to help improve our services – your input is invaluable.

I hope you enjoy this edition of the Quarterly.

Good wishes.

Susan Pascoe AM signature
Susan Pascoe AM

ACNC Commissioner

Beat the rush and submit your 2016 Annual Information Statement online now. If your charity uses the standard reporting period of 1 July to 30 June, your 2016 Annual Information Statement is due before the end of the year.

We have been listening to your feedback and we are continually trying to improve the Annual Information Statement to make it easier for charities to to complete. This year we have introduced an auto-calculation function, which will make entering your financial information quicker and more accurate.

Our 2015 Public Trust and Confidence research showed that support of charities is closely entwined with trust, and that charities are the third most trusted group in Australia (behind doctors and the police). Importantly, when the ACNC’s role as the charity regulator was explained to research survey respondents, their trust in Australia’s charities grew significantly.

This increase in trust is partly derived from the credibility which well governed charities generate and also from the fact that there is a regulatory body keeping watch over the sector, finding those that do the wrong thing, and taking action to ensure that all charities operate with integrity and good practice.

A similar concept to the charity tick already exists in Scotland, and in the United Kingdom and New Zealand charities have a unique ‘charity number’ that can be used when fundraising.
We see the benefit of the charity tick as two-fold; registered charities can display their charity registration status in a simple way and donors can instantly be confident that they are giving to a registered (and regulated) charity.

The charity tick will only be able to be downloaded by a registered charity via the Charity Portal. Its use will be governed by terms and conditions which the charity must agree to before they can download the file. The ACNC will track the use of the tick by each registered charity and take action where we are notified of a breach of the terms of use.

The charity tick will be available for charities to download in the Charity Portal by the end of November, ahead of the traditional Christmas charitable giving period. All registered charities will receive an email when the Charity Tick becomes available. The ACNC will be conducting a public information campaign to support the release of the tick.

Over time, we hope that the charity tick will become synonymous with a charity that is well governed, reputable, and worthy of public donations.

If you have not been able to make it to a 2016 Ask ACNC event, it isn’t too late to join us at our online Ask ACNC webinar session on 12 October. This session is the webinar version of the 'Ask ACNC' information sessions being held around the country. It will provide an opportunity to hear from Assistant Commissioner David Locke about the ACNC's work and issues facing the sector, as well as a chance to ask him questions.

To register, and to view our previous webinars, visit acnc.gov.au/webinars

  • Related party transactions, It is important that charities carefully manage and record their transactions with related parties. New ACNC guidance is available for charities developing policies or processes on related party transactions: acnc.gov.au/relatedparty
  • Administration costs . Administration costs are an important part of running an effective and sustainable charity. However, the role they play in running a charity is often misunderstood. To help people better understand how administration costs work for charities, and their connection to charity outcomes, we have produced a detailed guide which answers frequently asked questions: acnc.gov.au/admincosts.
  • Screencasts: Logging in to the Charity Portal and changing your password .We have new screencast videos that demonstrate how to log in to the Charity Portal and how to change your log-in password online. We will be developing more of these helpful how-to videos over time. You can find them in our multimedia page.

In a message to charities (published below) Kris Peach, Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) Chair says she recognises that the AASB needs to work with not-for-profits to ensure they set good financial reporting standards that are clear and easy to use.

A message from Kris Peach, AASB Chair:

I am concerned that the AASB does not know enough about the views of charities and not-for-profits to set good financial reporting standards. I understand that our standards must be easy to use and provide examples and guidance that are directly relevant to you. I know we must work with your regulators to make sure it's easy for you to work out what your reporting requirements are. I also know that, without your input, we cannot achieve these objectives.

What impact does your feedback have?

In response to your feedback on our recent agenda consultation, we will be working on a number of longer term and ‘quick fix’ projects focused on not-for-profit entities. These include the need for more sector specific guidance and possibly a third tier of reporting with simplified recognition and measurement requirements.

We are also responding to your concerns about revenue recognition. We will be issuing a new not-for-profit income standard in December. As a result of your feedback there will be more deferral of revenue, extensive guidance and examples, significant transition relief and extension of the application date to reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019.

How you can help

We appreciate that you are busy and may not have time to spend writing formal comment letters. To assist, we are now holding forums specifically for the not-for-profit sector, and webinars and education sessions designed to give you a quick understanding of what we are doing and why. We also encourage emails, meetings or phone calls with AASB staff as well as comments on Linked in and Twitter.Even just sharing the examples or issues causing you concern is helpful. Your feedback, not the form in which we get it, is the most important thing.

We may not always be able to give you everything you want. However, the more you can tell us, the better the decisions we make.

Let us know what you think! Email standard@aasb.gov.au, call (03) 9617 7600. Sign up to our weekly newsletter here.

In July, the ACNC’s Charity Portal was announced as the winner of the Digital Transformation Category in this year’s Public Sector Innovation Awards, as presented by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA)

The innovation award recognises initiatives that demonstrate the spirit of digital In July, the ACNC’s Charity Portal was announced as the winner of the Digital Transformation Award.

The Charity Portal was one of three finalists in the category, and it was praised for embracing the digital-by-default approach and providing an innovative service to the charitable sector.

The most frequently asked questions of our Advice Services team:

I have an email about an error I made in the Annual Information Statement. What do I need to do?

The email will be advising you that there is an error in your financial information. You will need to:

  • click on the link in the email to access the form
  • review the financial information and make any necessary changes and
  • submit the form.

Please read all of the information provided in the email before contacting the ACNC.

I looked up a charity and their record says their reports are “Not Required”. What does that mean, and how can I get information about that charity?

There are two reasons why the ACNC Charity register says a charity’s reports are “Not Required’.

  • The charity is registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). It will state this clearly on their record. You can access their annual reports on the ORIC register at www.oric.gov.au.
  • The charity was not registered with the ACNC during that reporting period and therefore had no reporting obligations. The charity will be required to lodge the following year’s report, which will be available to the public once submitted. You could also visit the charity’s website or contact them directly.

I was given a second ABN for my charity ‘as the Operator of a PBI/HPC’ and now I have to do two Annual Information Statements. What do I do?

Organisations that are the operators of a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) or Health Promotion Charity (HPC) were provided with a new ABN to make clear which part of the organisation is a registered charity and which part is a PBI or HPC. As both are registered entities with the ACNC, they have their own reporting obligations. You can choose to lodge separate annual reports via the ACNC Charity Portal or you can apply to group report by submitting Form 4B: Request group reporting.

We spoke with Joanne Matthews, President of the Reflux Infants Support Association Inc (RISA), about the work the charity does.

What does your charity do?

Reflux Infants Support Association Inc (RISA) supports families of children with diagnosed gastro oesophageal reflux disease. We also try to raise awareness of the condition in the medical and broader community.

What challenges does your charity face and how do you overcome them?

We've recently tried crowd fundraising for the first time which was surprisingly simple and quite successful. We were raising money to fund the analysis of a survey aimed at focusing health departments on the extent of difficulties families living with reflux infants face. Hopefully it will raise the level of awareness of the disease significantly.

What’s the most rewarding thing about the work you do?

The most rewarding part of our work is knowing that you are helping someone else through a very vulnerable and surprisingly difficult time in their lives - and knowing that the very steep learning curve we've conquered can help someone else have perhaps a slightly easier journey.

What tips do you have for charity governance?

In a totally volunteer run organisation like ours, I think it's important to have a single point person for governance, preferably someone with experience and confidence in the area. And as with all things, a second pair of eyes to make sure 'i's are dotted & t's crossed.