Key points:

  • All charities, no matter their size, must meet a series of ongoing obligations to maintain their registration with the ACNC.
  • A registered charity’s ongoing obligations include reporting to the ACNC, notifying us of changes, keeping proper records, and complying with ACNC Governance Standards.
  • A registered charity must also remain a not-for-profit and continue to pursue the charitable purposes for which it was registered.
  • Reporting to the ACNC includes the requirement to submit an Annual Information Statement, which is then published on the ACNC’s Charity Register.
  • The ACNC has the power to revoke the registration of charities that don't meet their obligations.

Keeping charity registration

All charities, no matter their size, are responsible for ensuring that they remain entitled to registration under the ACNC Act.

To retain its registration, a charity must:

  • remain not-for-profit
  • continue to pursue the charitable purpose or purposes for which it was registered
  • report to the ACNC annually
  • notify the ACNC of certain changes
  • comply with the ACNC’s Governance Standards
  • keep records.

Notifying the ACNC of changes

Charities have a duty to notify the ACNC of changes to their details. Small charities have 60 days to notify the ACNC after they change their details.

Charities must notify the ACNC if any of the following occur:

Keeping records

Registered charities have an obligation to keep certain records. To meet this obligation, a charity:

  • must keep certain written financial and operational records
  • can develop its own system or process
  • can keep the records in any format (including in electronic form), as long as they are easy to find
  • must keep its records for seven years
  • must keep records in English, or in a form easily translated to English.

Charities are not required to provide the records to the ACNC unless they are asked to.

Some examples of financial records are general account books, details of contracts, records of expenses or payments, details of grant payments and more.

Examples of written records include governing documents, meeting minutes, operating policies or procedures, annual reports and more.

Reporting to the ACNC

Charities are required to report to the ACNC annually.

Reporting obligations differ for small, medium and large charities, with small charities generally fulfilling this requirement by submitting an Annual Information Statement.

A charity's Annual Information Statement is due six months after the end of the charity’s reporting period. The public can view information from a charity’s Annual Information Statement on the ACNC Charity Register.

For more on the Annual Information Statement, visit: acnc.gov.au/AIS.

Meeting Governance Standards

The ACNC requires charities to meet its Governance Standards: a set of minimum standards that cover the way charities are run.

The Standards require charities to remain charitable, operate lawfully, and be run in an accountable and responsible way.

  • Standard 1: Purposes and not-for-profit nature - Charities must be not-for-profit and work towards their charitable purpose.
  • Standard 2: Accountability to members - Charities with members must take reasonable steps to be accountable to them, and to provide them with adequate opportunity to raise concerns about how the charity is governed.
  • Standard 3: Compliance with Australian laws - Charities must not commit a serious offence under any Australian law, or breach a law that may result in a penalty of 60 penalty units (currently $10 200) or more.
  • Standard 4: Suitability of Responsible Persons - Charities must take reasonable steps to:
    • be satisfied that their Responsible Persons (such as board or committee members or trustees) are not disqualified from managing a corporation under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) or disqualified from being a Responsible Person of a registered charity by the ACNC Commissioner, and
    • remove any Responsible Person who does not meet these requirements.
  • Standard 5: Duties of Responsible Persons - Charities must take reasonable steps to make sure that responsible persons are subject to, understand and carry out the duties set out in this standard.

If a charity is failing to meet the Governance Standards, the ACNC can investigate.

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