These template rules have been developed by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with Justice Connect Not-for-profit Law, and in close consultation with the ATO, state and territory government agencies and a number of professional advisers.

These template rules should be read together with our guidance for unincorporated associations. In this document we use the word “association” to refer to unincorporated associations only, not incorporated associations.

Who can use these rules?

These template rules are intended to be used as a starting point for unincorporated associations seeking to register as a charity with the ACNC.

The template rules are not intended for associations seeking to incorporate under state or territory laws, as each state and territory has its own rules and requirements (particularly for charitable purposes and fundraising). If you intend to become incorporated, we recommend you consider the model rules for your state or territory and the ACNC’s template constitution for a charitable purpose company limited by guarantee.

Who these rules may be suitable for

These template rules may be useful for a small, member-based organisation which is governed by a committee, mostly does it work through volunteers, has minimal assets and does work which has minimal risk. The rules are not suitable for organisations with corporate members (for example, members that are companies).

How to use these rules

Legally, an unincorporated association is not required to have any governing rules. However, many do, because they are helpful practically, and will greatly assist the association to meet ACNC requirements. We have marked the rules you need to include to register with the ACNC with an asterisk (*) and highlighted them in blue.

Once adopted, these template rules become the association’s governing document, establishing a governance structure and some processes for decision-making and member involvement. Clauses that will assist the organisation to meet ACNC registration requirements are marked with an asterisk. Additional clauses may be also be added, such as to allow for proxies or postal ballots.

The rules should include the most important rules which govern the association. Other matters can be covered in policies or by-laws.

These template rules are for general information purposes only. Charities should use these rules as a guide only, and adopt rules that are suitable for their own needs and circumstances.

Seek professional advice if you need help understanding these rules or to decide whether these rules (and this legal structure) are right for your charity. The ACNC’s general disclaimer applies to these template rules. These rules reflect the law as at 3 March 2016.

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