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The ACNC regularly reviews charities to ensure they remain entitled to registration.

This work is one way we verify the accuracy of charity details that appear on the ACNC Charity Register. It also helps maintain public trust and confidence in charities and the charity sector, and helps the ACNC better target its guidance to charities on meeting their obligations and remaining registered.

Our reviews focus on three areas:

We review 2% of deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsed charities each year to ensure they remain entitled to registration.

Summary of DGR review outcomes by year

2022-23 2021-22 2020-21
Type of DGRs reviewed Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) + other DGR categories PBI PBI
Number of charities reviewed 480* 464 303
No issues identified – charity fully compliant 206 227 52
ACNC worked with charity to assist it to meet obligations 187 112 170
Subtype revocation** 5 60 27
Charity revocation 82 65 54

* Some reviews are still in progress. The results described in the table reflect completed reviews only.
** Subtypes are categories that reflect the charity’s charitable purpose. If a charity’s purposes change, the subtype with which it is registered may also need to change. An organisation may need to revoke a subtype but still be eligible to be a registered charity.

Overall outcomes

Where the reviews identified administrative issues, the ACNC worked with charities to help them meet their obligations. Administrative issues included:

  • missing or inadequate governing documents
  • fewer Responsible People than the number required according to the charity legal structure
  • extra subtype registrations that did not appear to be connected to the charity’s purpose.

The number of charity revocations among those we reviewed each year was high. This is a result of the risk-based selection methodology we use when choosing charities for review, and does not infer a high rate of non-compliance across the entire charity sector.

Most revocations occurred due to the charity:

Subtype revocations were high in the first two years of the reviews, which focused solely on Public Benevolent Institutions (PBIs). These revocations included both PBI and other subtypes.

Revocations dropped significantly in 2022-23 when the reviews expanded beyond PBIs to other types of DGR endorsements.

When we revoked a charity’s PBI subtype, the most common reason for doing so was that the charity did not meet the legal meaning of a PBI.

Charities undertook all revocations voluntarily.

2023-24 reviews

During our first two years of reviews (2020-21 and 2021-22), the only charities we selected for review were those with the PBI subtype.

In the third year of reviews (2022-23), we expanded our selections to include charities with other DGR entitlement categories, as well as those with the PBI subtype. We did not, however, include Health Promotion Charities in these reviews.

In 2023-24, our reviews included Health Promotion Charities (HPCs) for the first time, as well as PBIs and other types of DGR endorsement.

We selected 492 charities using criteria drawn from previous reviews that indicated a charity warranted closer consideration or support. Those criteria included either a lack of a governing document or Responsible People on the Charity Register.

In 2020-21, we commissioned a project to review charities with certain risk factors.

In addition to reviewing DGR-endorsed charities, we reviewed 577 other charities to check their entitlement to registration. We based our selection on risks that included:

  • charities with purposes that appeared not to be charitable
  • charities with registration that may have been affected by changes in case law
  • potential concerns about some charities’ entitlement that were identified through other ACNC processes.

We either provided charities with guidance to resolve administrative issues, or, where we identified issues with their entitlement, we completed more in-depth reviews and worked with charities to try to rectify issues.

Retained full entitlement (may have received guidance to help meet obligations)28%
Subtype revocation1%
Voluntary revocation70%
Revocation by the ACNC1%

In 2020-21, we commissioned a project to review the details of all charities on the Charity Register.

These reviews focused on details that could compromise the integrity of the Charity Register and could indicate a charity was no longer entitled to registration.

Cancelled ABN – revoked by ACNC392
Cancelled ABN – voluntary revocation183
Cancelled ABN – issued with a notice to reactivate ABN or revoke554
Reporting incorrectly as a Basic Religious Charity96
Charities without an appropriate governing document2,470
Invalid requests to withhold information from the Charity Register2,513

What charities can learn from the reviews

The reviews identified several important criteria that charities must continue to meet so they remain entitled to registration.

Registered charities must:

Addressing issues identified during our reviews

The ACNC takes a proportionate response when a review identifies concerns about a charity’s entitlement to be registered.

For a minor issue, we provide guidance and explain how the charity can rectify the situation. For more significant issues, we will always contact the charity and seek to gain understanding, clarify details and, if appropriate, discuss the charity’s options.

If the matter cannot be resolved, we will set out our concerns in writing and allow time for the charity to provide relevant information or take steps to address the issue before deciding on any further action.

When a serious issue with a charity’s registration is identified – one which can’t be resolved – we will take steps toward revoking its registration.

Where possible, we will support any charity that wishes to voluntarily revoke its registration – where the charity agrees to the revocation and completes the required documentation to facilitate it.

If this is not possible, the ACNC can revoke a charity’s registration (involuntary revocation) for non-compliance on issues that cannot be resolved. In cases of involuntary revocation, the charity is given notice and has an opportunity to provide us with a reason its registration should not be revoked.

Review case studies

XYZ Foundation is registered as a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI). It provides meals and counselling support to people experiencing homelessness. It also provides an education program, as well as a scholarship open to all school-aged members of its local community.

The ACNC reviewed XYZ Foundation and were satisfied that the meals and counselling services it provided demonstrated that it had a purpose of providing benevolent relief. However, we were concerned that the education program and scholarship – although charitable – did not further the purpose of providing benevolent relief.

We contacted XYZ Foundation to outline our concerns and ask for more details about its work. The charity provided more information to us, allowing us to confirm that its education program and scholarship furthered a non-benevolent (but charitable) purpose of advancing education.

We then contacted the charity again to discuss how the issue could be resolved.

In response, XYZ Foundation’s board decided that it would continue to pursue all its purposes, as each was important to its local community. However, the board also acknowledged that donations the charity received for being a PBI had to be directed to its purpose of benevolent relief.

As a result, the board decided to set up a second charity to separately manage the education program and scholarship.

We supported the charity’s decision, provided guidance and gave it time to restructure its operations.

We sent XYZ Foundation a letter confirming the action it had agreed to take, as well as the date by which it had agreed to set in place the changes.

The Greenfields Trekking Association (GTA) is registered as a Public Benevolent Institution (PBI). Its purposes are to promote its local region as an ideal trekking location, to host treks and barbecues, and to support search and rescue operations for lost or injured trekkers.

The ACNC contacted GTA to seek further information about its purposes. After reviewing the information GTA provided, we had concerns that the social and recreational aspects of its work indicated that it may not be entitled to registration as a charity.

GTA’s chair said that after receiving notification from us about a possible review, he conducted his own investigation and reached the same conclusion about GTA’s purposes.

GTA then applied to the ACNC to have its charity registration voluntarily revoked.

The ACNC reviewed the Annual Information Statements of a charity named RST. The review indicated that, despite meeting its reporting obligations, RST had not operated for the previous five years.

The ACNC attempted to contact RST multiple times to discuss its activities and plans but did not receive a response.

We issued RST with a notice that outlined our concerns, and gave it an opportunity to provide reasons why its registration should not be revoked. However, because we received no response to the notice by the required due date, we revoked RST’s registration.

The charity JKL Institute supports people suffering from debilitating diseases by conducting research and circulating information about treatment.

The ACNC reviewed JKL Institute’s activities and found it should be registered with a subtype of Health Promotion Charity (HPC), rather than Public Benevolent Institution (PBI).

We discussed our concerns with the charity and passed on information about the tax implications of being an HPC.

As a result, JKL Institute agreed to apply to have its PBI subtype revoked before applying to be registered as an HPC instead.

The Tinkler Association provides welfare and support to disadvantaged people in rural communities. It works to help families in distress, as well as improve health facilities and access to health care services.

The ACNC reviewed the association and found:

  • incomplete reporting
  • incomplete listing of its Responsible People on the Charity Register
  • inappropriate subtypes based on its activities.

The Tinkler Association had multiple sub-branches also registered as separate charities.

However, our analysis of its governing document identified a clause stating that the sub-branches were not independent and were in fact part of The Tinkler Association. Therefore, the sub-branches did not meet the definition of ‘legal entity’ as stated in the ACNC Act and were not entitled to be registered.

We contacted the association to discuss these administrative issues.

The association’s board then discussed the issue at its state conference, and, in response, worked with us to have the sub-branches’ registrations revoked.

It also updated the record of its Responsible People that appeared on the Charity Register, submitted outstanding Annual Information Statements, and provided up-to-date financial reports.

It also submitted a request to have its subtypes reviewed to reflect its charitable purpose more accurately.