Our website is central to our communication with registered charities and the public. It is a crucial source of information, advice and guidance about important issues for charities, as well as insights into Australia’s charity sector. It is also the access point for the ACNC Charity Register and ACNC Charity Portal.
In October 2018, we launched our revitalised website — designed to simplify and streamline the information available, as well as improve functionality, speed and reliability. The new design is modern and more accessible to a wider range of users. Importantly, it is now mobile and tablet-responsive, improving the user experience.
Our new website introduced an improved search function which allows visitors to find information of interest with ease. In addition to providing an effective search system, the updated website has an A-to-Z list of topics and easy access to popular resources and new content.
We are still working towards complete compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2 (WCAG2.0) — however, the new website has allowed for significant improvements. For example, new policies and procedures are now available as HTML content for the first time, complying with WCAG2.0, and there have been significant improvements to the navigation and mobile versions of the site. Work is continuing to deliver further accessibility and readability of the website.
MOST POPULAR PAGES ON ACNC.GOV.AU IN 2018–19:
SEARCH THE ACNC CHARITY REGISTER
ACNC CHARITY PORTAL
THE CHARITY REGISTER HAD NEARLY 2 MILLION PAGE VIEWS
The Charity Register is the most popular page on our website, with 968,815 searches in 2018–19 — an increase of 25% on the previous year — and nearly 2 million page views. The updates to our website increased the speed of the Charity Register, while enhancing the presentation of data to make it more visual and to provide more information with fewer clicks. The redesigned listings for each charity includes information about activities, beneficiaries and financial status at the forefront. The interactive presentation allows donors to see key information at a glance, and improved navigation and layout to explore further.
In addition to launching the new website and Charity Register, we implemented a range of improvements to the ACNC Charity Portal — providing a faster, modernised resource for charities.
One of the major improvements to the Charity Portal is providing user accounts for individuals. Previously, user accounts were limited to one for each charity. This meant that people within a single charity had to share login details to manage their charity, and people representing multiple charities had to juggle multiple accounts to manage their charities. Now every user can manage the obligations of their one or more charities from a single account. This has made using the Charity Portal to manage charity obligations more efficient and user friendly.
Since the launch of the new website in October 2018, we have received a range of positive feedback from new and existing users of the ACNC website.
One user commented:
“I don’t often write feedback like this, but I wanted to congratulate you on the upgraded website. Not only is it much better looking, it’s faster to access data and easier to search… Setting a high bar for other government agencies.”
Another user suggested that the website looked “fresh and clean.”
Users on social media also responded positively to the changes, noting that the site is “fast, user friendly and great for looking up charities when making giving decisions.” Another commented that “the new site is faster, more reliable and more accessible for all users. Best of all it’s very beautiful.”
One user, who regularly uses the website and Charity Portal in their role as a Responsible Person for multiple charities, said:
“Congratulations on the new website, I have just added a new Responsible Person and found the experience of working with the website both instructive and responsive.”
COMMUNICATING WITH CHARITIES AND THE CHARITY SECTOR
The ACNC Commissioner writes a column each fortnight, issued to more than 11,000 subscribers, which provides an update on news from the ACNC and the wider charity sector. A total of 25 Commissioner’s Columns were published in 2018–19.
In addition to the fortnightly Commissioner’s Columns, all charities receive a newsletter, ACNC Quarterly, that includes information about reporting requirements, legislative changes and other matters that may affect not-for-profit organisations. Three issues of ACNC Quarterly were published and distributed in 2018–19.
Our active social media presence continued in 2018–19, with improved engagement on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We use these channels to share charity news and events, resources and reminders. Engagement continues to grow, with our Twitter follower count reaching 10,287.
To highlight more about Australia’s registered charities, we started publishing a feature article called ‘Getting to Know’. Each article contains an interview with a registered charity about its work, its challenges and its rewards. A total of 14 Getting to Know articles were published on our homepage in 2018–19, and featured charities from a range of sectors and locations across the country. For more information or to read the stories, visit acnc.gov.au/GettingToKnow.
ENGAGING WITH THE SECTOR
We are committed to meaningful engagement with the not-for-profit sector. We receive many requests to attend meetings and to present at events. We try to accommodate as many requests as practicable and to engage with people in rural areas, as well as in the capital cities. In 2018–19, our Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner participated in 104 stakeholder meetings — including meetings with charities, sector representatives and peak bodies — and 56 speaking engagements, including conferences, forums and roundtable discussions. Of the 160 events, 16 were in regional or rural areas.
25 COMMISSIONER’S COLUMNS PUBLISHED
14 ‘GETTING TO KNOW’ ARTICLES PUBLISHED
10,287 TWITTER FOLLOWERS
104 STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS
56 SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
SECTOR AND PROFESSIONAL USER GROUPS
We have two established consultative groups that meet throughout the year: the ACNC Sector Users Group and the ACNC Professional Users Group. In 2018–19, we convened three meetings of both groups.
The Sector Users Group comprises representatives from peak bodies in the charity sector, ACNC representatives and invited representatives of government agencies that interact with the charity sector.
The Professional Users Group comprises professional advisers, legal and financial officers of charities, ACNC representatives and invited representatives of government agencies that interact with the charity sector.
Both groups provide perspectives on issues in the sector, feedback on matters of procedure, policy, strategy, performance and the ACNC’s regulatory approach.
CHARITY FRAUD AWARENESS WEEK
Reports of fraud are increasing, and it is vital for charities to protect their income and assets. In October 2018, we participated in Charity Fraud Awareness Week — an international effort to promote honesty and openness about fraud in the charity sector, and to raise awareness and share solutions in tackling fraud and financial crime.
The wide-ranging project, coordinated by the Charity Commission of England and Wales, brought together more than 40 regulators, peak bodies, professional associations and charities globally to take part in fraud awareness education activities throughout the week.
The ACNC supported the week through the publication of three news articles, social media posts, and mentions in two Commissioner’s Columns — resulting in more than 16,000 social media impressions, and an increase in web traffic to relevant fraud-related content.
Our involvement in Charity Fraud Awareness Week will continue in October 2019.
In 2018–19, we published a total of 49 news articles on the ACNC website to provide updates on developments within the ACNC and to highlight key issues and changes within the charity sector. In addition, we responded to a total of 256 enquiries from journalists and media personnel, resulting in 3,217 media mentions.
Our media mentions represented an equivalent advertising value of over $30 million.
Stories that attracted the most interest included the activities of drought charities Rural Aid and Aussie Helpers, the ACNC’s compliance processes, figures from the Australian Charities Report 2017 and the findings from the Charity Compliance Report 2018.
In May 2019, we published our media policy, which sets out how we manage and respond to requests for information from members of the press. The policy outlines our commitment to engage with the media (within the legislative limitations of the ACNC Act) and make ourselves available to comment on issues concerning the charity sector.
INTERNATIONAL CHARITY REGULATOR ENGAGEMENT
We have a strong network with overseas charity regulators and we continue to learn from other regulators and share our experience of charity regulation with our counterparts overseas. We continue to host the biannual teleconference with charity regulators from England & Wales, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, United States and Singapore.
We attended two major summits on preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the aid sector in London in October 2018, the International Safeguarding Summit and Putting People First, and Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment in the Aid Sector. These events highlighted the trial of initiatives to combat the issues, including a new Interpol system to improve background checks on staff working in the aid and development sector and a new scheme for disclosure of misconduct across the not-for-profit sector.
We participated in and presented at two regulator forums in Wellington, New Zealand, in April 2019. The first was a forum with New Zealand’s charity regulator, Charity Services, to consider the similarities and differences of the regulatory frameworks in Australia and New Zealand. The second was at the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference where discussions focused on issues in the charity and NFP sector, as well as the review of the New Zealand charities legislation.
We attended the International Charity Regulators Conference in New York and the Muttart Foundation Consultation on Charity Law in Canada in October and November 2018 to strengthen the Communities of Practice between Charity Regulators in common law countries and to understand approaches to critical issues in charity law and regulation.
40,214 PHONE CALLS
ENQUIRIES FROM CHARITIES AND THE PUBLIC
We hear directly from charities and the public via phone, email, our new online enquiry form on the website and through the Charity Portal.
Most enquiries we received in 2018–19 were about accessing the new Charity Portal and completing the Annual Information Statement. We also received a lot of enquiries about charity law and governance — such as questions about starting a charity, changing a charity subtype, winding-up or merging a charity, and what charities can and cannot do.
In 2018–19, our Advice Services team responded to 40,214 phone calls, compared with 31,809 in 2017–18. On average, calls in 2018–19 were answered within 7 minutes, compared to 38 seconds in the previous year.
The average number of calls per month in 2018–19 was 3,351. The previous year, the average number of calls per month was 2,650. The busiest month in 2018–19 was March 2019 in which we answered 4,806 calls.
Our busiest ever day of phone calls occurred on Friday 29 March 2019, when we answered 833 calls. The previous record of answering 709 calls occurred on 31 March 2014.
The increase in calls can be attributed to issues with the new Charity Portal. In March 2019, the new system’s first peak submission period, the Charity Portal experienced system slowness and outages. In addition, many charities sought assistance setting up their new individual login accounts. This resulted in an unprecedented volume of calls and an increased wait times for customers to get through on the phone. It also increased the average duration of each call.
ON AVERAGE, CALLS WERE ANSWERED WITHIN 7 MINUTES
IN 2018–19 WE RECEIVED:
1,553 PAPER LETTERS OR FORMS
6,962 ONLINE FORMS
Our Aboriginal Liaison Officers had a busy year providing support and advice on Aboriginal liaison to our staff and external agencies, as well as support to Indigenous charities. They responded to a range of enquiries for which consultation with an Aboriginal Liaison Officer was requested.
During NAIDOC Week they ran activities for staff and participated in the Whole of Government NAIDOC Event.
Additionally, we worked closely with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Organisations (ORIC) to facilitate the exchange of data between the two agencies, reducing the reporting burden for ORIC-registered charities.
In the image above, Caitlin, Marion and Louis display a collage of photographs taken by ACNC staff to celebrate NAIDOC Week.
We received 22,214 pieces of written correspondence in 2018–19. Of this total, 11,830 became written enquiry ‘cases’ requiring a response from our Advice Services team. In 2018–19, we resolved 11,987 written enquiry cases, 4,604 more than in 2017–18.
Table 4.1: Written enquiries
QUALITY ASSURANCE OF CALLS AND EMAILS
We undertook quality assurance checks throughout the year that involved reviewing staff responses to phone calls and written enquiries to monitor and improve the quality of our responses to customers’ enquiries. Responses are evaluated according to four criteria: integrity, correctness, timeless and customer service. In 2018–19, we achieved an average score of 80%.