From the 2014 reporting period onwards, medium and large charities have been compelled to submit financial reports that have either been reviewed or audited.

Large charities must have their financial report audited, and then must submit both the financial report and auditor’s report to the ACNC.

Medium-sized charities must submit a financial report, but can choose to have it either reviewed or audited unless the charity:

  • must have audited financial reports due to other requirements, for example, as directed by the charity's Governing Documents or a funding agreement, or
  • has received a written notice from the ACNC Commissioner stating it must provide audited reports.

Again, medium-sized charities must submit the reviewer’s or auditor’s report to the ACNC, along with the financial report.

Deciding on an audit or review

Use this table to help you decide whether to have your charity’s financial report reviewed or audited.

Note that the points below are only a guide and not intended to capture all circumstances. Your charity should make a decision based on its situation, and seek professional advice if you are unsure.

Review

Audit

Positives

  • Generally cheaper than an audit
  • Takes less time
  • Easier to find a reviewer than auditor (especially in regional areas)
  • Higher level of assurance – opinion that your charity meets requirements, based on identifying any financial reporting issues
  • Higher level of examination of the charity’s financial report based on more detail and evidence

Negatives

  • Lower level of assurance – less likely than an audit to identify financial reporting issues
  • Lower level of examination of charity’s financial report
  • Can cost more money
  • Can take more time
  • Can be harder to find an auditor

Review of financial reports

alert icon Download a reviewer’s report template. This template is designed for use by auditors and developed with the assistance of the Australian Auditing Standards Board Technical Group.

What a review includes

A review of your charity’s financial report is conducted by a reviewer. The reviewer states whether there is, or is not anything that has come to their attention that causes them to believe the financial report does not meet the requirements of the ACNC Act (in all material aspects).

A review also states whether your charity:

  • provided all information, explanation and assistance needed to conduct the review
  • kept good financial records so a financial report could be prepared and reviewed
  • kept other records as required under the ACNC Act.

submit ais icon As part of your review, you only need to reference the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013. Do not reference the Corporations Act 2001.

Level of assurance

A review only provides limited assurance (comfort). The reviewer states that they do not know of anything to suggest your charity’s financial report is non-compliant. A review is a lower level of assurance than an audit. An audit is a direct opinion as to whether your charity’s financial report meets the requirements of the ACNC Act.

Review process

A reviewer will look at your charity’s financial statements and accounts but in less detail than an audit. A reviewer will speak to your charity’s staff, including those responsible for finance and accounting.

Reviews for medium sized charities can be done by:

  • a registered company auditor
  • an audit firm
  • an authorised audit company
  • a current member of a relevant professional body, CPA Australia – CPAA (CPA or FCPA designation), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand – CAANZ (CA or FCA designation) or Institute of Public Accountants – IPA (FIPA or MIPA designation).

Reviewer’s report

Under the ACNC Act, a reviewer’s report must:

  • state whether anything has come to their attention that causes them to believe your charity’s financial report does not meet the requirements of the ACNC Act. If the reviewer believes the report does not meet the Act, they must:
    • explain why
    • where possible, quantify the effect of this on your charity’s financial report or if it is not possible to quantify to explain why
  • describe any material defect or irregularity in the financial report
  • state any problems in the assistance they received from the charity when conducting the review, or any issues with the records kept by the charity as identified above, and
  • include any statements or disclosures required by the auditing standards.

The reviewer’s report generally also includes the following:

  • a title stating that it is an independent review report, and who it is addressed to, for example, the members of the charity
  • an introduction covering the basics of the engagement and what has been reviewed
  • a section outlining the governing body’s responsibility for the financial report
  • a section outlining the reviewer’s responsibilities
  • a conclusion of the review
  • if it applies, a section outlining reporting responsibilities to other government agencies
  • the date of the report, and
  • the reviewer’s signature and address.

Reviewer’s independence declaration

You must get a signed written declaration from the reviewer of your charity’s financial report that states that to the best of the reviewer’s knowledge and belief that:

  • there have been no contraventions of any applicable code of professional conduct in respect of the review, or
  • the only contraventions of any applicable code of professional conduct in respect of the review are those explained in the declaration.

alert icon Download an auditor’s report template. These templates are designed for use by auditors and were developed with the assistance of the Australian Auditing Standards Board Technical Group.

Definition of audit

An audit of your charity’s financial report provides an auditor’s opinion as to whether the report:

  • has been prepared correctly under the ACNC Act
  • represents a true and fair view of the charity’s financial position (its net wealth) and performance (how it has gone)
  • meets all applicable Australian Accounting Standards.

An audit aims to identify material mis-statements in the financial report, including those resulting from fraud. The auditor will also obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to evaluate whether your charity:

  • provided all information, explanation and assistance needed to conduct the audit
  • kept good financial records so a financial report could be prepared and audited, and
  • kept other records as required under the ACNC Act.

Level of assurance

An audit provides more assurance (comfort) than a review. Unlike the review, an auditor must collect evidence to allow them to give a direct reasonable assurance opinion that is positively stated, namely that your charity’s financial report meets the requirements of the ACNC Act.

Audit process

An auditor’s process is more detailed than a reviewer’s, and involves additional procedures to enable them to provide an opinion of reasonable assurance in relation to your charity’s financial statements and accounts.

submit ais icon You only need to reference the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013. Do not reference the Corporations Act 2001.

Who can do an audit

Audits can be done by:

  • a registered company auditor
  • an audit firm
  • an authorised audit company.

Auditor’s report

Under the ACNC Act, an auditor’s report must:

  • state whether in the auditor’s opinion your charity’s financial report has been prepared correctly under the ACNC Act. If the auditor believes that your charity’s financial report does not meet the requirements of the ACNC Act, they must:
    • explain why
    • where possible, quantify the effect of this on your charity’s financial report or if it is not possible to quantify to explain why.
  • describe any material defect or irregularity in the financial report
  • state any problems in the assistance they received from the charity when conducting the audit, or any issues with the records kept by the charity as identified above, and
  • include any statements or disclosures required by the auditing standards.

The auditor’s report generally includes the following:

  • a title stating that it is an independent audit report, and who it is addressed to – for example, the members of the charity
  • an introduction covering the basics of the engagement and what has been audited
  • a section outlining the governing body’s responsibility for the financial report
  • a section outlining the auditor’s responsibilities
  • the auditor’s opinion of the audit
  • if applicable, a section outlining other reporting responsibilities to other government agencies
  • the date of report, and
  • the auditor’s signature and address.

Auditor’s independence declaration

Your charity must get a signed written declaration from your auditor that states that to the best of the auditor’s knowledge and belief that:

  • there has been no contraventions of any applicable code of professional conduct in respect of the audit, or
  • the only contraventions of any applicable code of professional conduct in respect of the audit are those detailed in the declaration.