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In December 2013, the ACNC engaged Ernst & Young (EY) to research the regulatory and reporting burden on charities. While this research focused on Commonwealth burden, it also considers state and territory burden.

This report provides the ACNC an independent insight into the source and scale of government requirements on charities, and to identify which of these requirements constitute red tape. The report examines the experiences of 15 case study charities drawn from subsectors in which there was anecdotal evidence of significant red tape and where research on the burdens imposed was lacking: social welfare, other education (excluding schools and universities) and health and aged care.

EY also surveyed nearly 400 charities and analysed publicly available data.

Key findings

  • Commonwealth funding agreement obligations impose a greater burden on charities than legislative obligations
  • Commonwealth burden is impacting on charities’ ability to achieve charitable outcomes
  • Commonwealth reporting burden on the 15 case study charities averaged an estimated $108,000 for the 2012-13 year, with between $27,000 and $38,000 constituting red tape. The average Commonwealth burden was $18,000 for small charities (charities with revenue less than $250,000 per annum) and $235,000 for large charities (charities with revenue over $1 million per annum)
  • Estimated average annual burden imposed by ACNC reporting obligations was $150, or 0.1 per cent of total annual burden

Red tape

Most common sources of red tape for charities include:

  • overly-frequent reporting and excessive information requirements under funding programs
  • duplication of information required under multiple funding programs and across different levels of government
  • inconsistency in financial reporting requirements and processes across government
  • inconsistencies in key regulatory frameworks across the states and territories, particularly with fundraising and incorporated associations regulations.


Key recommendations include that the ACNC should:

  • work together with other departments and agencies to encourage the early adoption of available tools to reduce red tape
  • consider adopting an ‘honest-broker’ role to drive government reforms to further reduce burden.