Our February webinar examined in detail recently-announced changes to charity size and reporting thresholds which will come into effect in coming months.

The changes will soon see thousands of charities re-classified - particularly from medium-sized to small - with their reporting obligations to the ACNC to change so they more appropriately match the size of their operations. Our webinar looked at the changes and what they mean for your charity.

Webinar Transcript

Chris Riches

Hi, everyone. Welcome to today’s webinar, which is the first one for 2022. A belated happy new year to everyone, and hope you had a lovely break, a lovely holiday period.

Today we’re going to be looking at some changes to charity size and to reporting thresholds that are going to be coming into effect relatively soon and are going to be impacting charities around the country.

My name’s Chris Riches. I’m from the Education Team at the ACNC. Joining me today is Mel Yates. He is director of our Reporting and Red Tape Reduction Team. Mel, how’s things?

Mel Yates

Good, Chris. How are you going?

Chris Riches

I’m good, I’m good. Now, before we kick in, before we get going, a couple of housekeeping things. If you've got any troubles with the audio for the webinar, you can try listening through your phone. Now, that involves calling the number that you will have received in your email when you registered and putting in an access code and going from there.

We have some colleagues helping us answer questions today as well. Matt and Kat and Eric are going to help out. If you want to ask a question, feel free to type it out in the question box in the GoToWebinar interface that you're using at the moment.

We’re going to try and answer as many of the questions as we can, if not all of them, as they come through. If we cannot, if your question doesn't get answered, please feel free to send us an email, and we’ll get back in touch with you. And that’s to education@acnc.gov.au.

We have our slides ready to go, as you can see. You will probably note that - well, you can see us on camera as well. You should be able to toggle between different views depending on whatever you wish to do, and depending on whatever device you're on.

For tablets and for phones, it's probably as easy as swiping between views. You may need to - if you're on a PC or laptop, switch while using mouse or whatever. So we’ll let you make your mind up on what you want to see on the screen.

We’re recording the webinar as well. So the recording and presentation slides, they’ll be published on the ACNC’s site very, very soon. And we also will have an email coming out for everyone who’s registered that’s going to have a lot of links. It’s going to have a link to the recording as well.

So keep an eye on your email inboxes after today’s session, and you’ll receive that. That will also help you so that you don’t have to write down a whole heap of Web addresses and stuff like that as we go through.

Finally, we, as always, value feedback. If you have any suggestions for ways that we can improve our webinars, let us know, and we will take on board any input you give us through the short survey at the end of our session today.

So, with that all out of the way, let's get on to our webinar proper. Mel, what's on the agenda for today?

Mel Yates

Thanks, Chris. So we want to start talking about what the ACNC does in terms of red tape reduction. You’ve outlined also that we’ll be talking about changes to the reporting thresholds. The interaction between those two things is quite important because we are looking forward to some changes to those reporting thresholds. And that is one of the ways in which we are implementing a red tape reduction agenda on behalf of government.

And it's a very critical role for us to try and minimise or reduce red tape for charities in all of the work that we do.

So we’ll dive in and have a look at those changes to the reporting thresholds. We’ll compare the current thresholds to those which are coming into play later in the year. And we’ll look at what those changes mean and some of the impacts that that will have on charities, particularly those charities who may change their size. So there’s going to be a little bit of movement by some charities across the thresholds.

For example, we’ll look in more detail at if a charity’s going to move from a medium-sized entity to a small-sized charity, what does that mean? What are some of the consequences? And also, importantly, we’ll look at what charities can do now in preparation for those changes.

Chris Riches

That last point is something that we will definitely focus on near the end of our webinar to make sure people know that they can do some bits and pieces now to make sure that their charity’s ready to go.

First up I guess is a little bit of a context setter and a bit of a look at the ACNC’s red tape reduction agenda. Mel, red tape reduction, I mean - I guess you've mentioned it here already. It’s a vital part of what we do at the ACNC, isn’t it?

Mel Yates

It really is. And it's actually one of the core parts of the creation of the ACNC. so it's part of our objects as a regulator. We are required to try to reduce unnecessary regulatory obligations.

And what that means in plain English is we need to implement and demonstrate a reduction in red tape for Australian charities who are interacting with the ACNC, and also are interacting across government, across different levels as well.

So one of the things that we do is we try to implement a Report Once, Use Often framework. So that’s really about us collecting information from charities through the annual information statement and the collection of financial reports, where they are required to be given to the ACNC by charities. We try and share that information. So that’s really collecting information once, then using that often, or using that for multiple purposes. And one of the examples that we see there is the sharing of information through the Charity Passport. And that’s really critical across governments so that we can share information that we’ve collected about charities.

We also try to streamline reporting. So we’ve got various examples which we’ll talk shortly about. And that really is switching off duplication, where there has been a requirement to report to different organisations or different regulators.

We try and harmonise regulatory requirements, where possible. We’ve also done research on the obligations that charities have to meet to try to understand what we can do to further reduce red tape. And that’s really, really important. That helps to inform us about our activities going forward.

And obviously, one of the important things that you're familiar with, Chris, is the providing of guidance and resources and education, and helping charities to understand what they need to do to comply with all of their obligations.

Chris Riches

Yeah. Now, we’ve got - we’ve obviously made some progress through your team, Mel, with working with states and territories in trying to, I guess, reduce that duplicative, he says, with difficulty, reporting. Are you able to give us just a real quick update on where that is?

Mel Yates

Absolutely. So, in every state and territory, excluding Queensland - and we’re hoping that we can change that into the future - but every state and territory, not including Queensland, we had switched off the duplicated reporting in conjunction with the state or territory regulator. And that’s for incorporated associations.

So any organisation which is an incorporated association in any state or territory around Australia, not including Queensland, they have the ability to report to the ACNC, and that can fulfil their reporting requirements to their state or territory regulator.

In terms of fundraising, we have got streamlined reporting arrangements with South Australia, the ACT, Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. It’s important to note that Tasmania doesn't require reporting, and the Northern Territory doesn't regulate fundraising.

So again, we’re looking forward to hopefully resolving that anomaly for Queensland into the future.

Chris Riches

Yeah. And now there’s some information obviously on our website about where things are at in terms of reporting to state and/or territory, fulfilling obligations there, both just on a reporting level but also on a fundraising level.

If you wander into our website and have a look around, you’ll be able to find out a little bit more about where things are at. And obviously, if situations change, particularly with Queensland, we’ll keep everyone updated on what's going on there.

Now, part of reducing red tape is to ensure that charities’ obligations to us are in line with I guess the size and the scope of their operations. And this is where our topic sort of comes in today, the changes to charity sizes and reporting thresholds.

As we know, when charities report to the ACNC, they're divided into three sizes. And depending - you can see them there on the screen - small, medium, and large. And those sizes are based on their total revenue. Total revenue, total annual revenue. Mel, you're going to make sure I get this right. Which is it? Which is our terminology that we use on that one?

Mel Yates

So it's revenue, and it's annual revenue. So basically, each reporting year, it is revenue that is the determinant of size.

Chris Riches

And these sizes, they're also indicative of reporting thresholds. So reporting requirements differ across these thresholds. Now, as we can see here, what are the changes?

We currently have a situation where we have small, medium, and large set out with certain charity size thresholds. Mel, if you could - maybe you could give us a bit of a rundown about where things are currently at.

Mel Yates

Absolutely. Thanks, Chris. So at the moment, the reporting tiers are outlined here on this slide, and small charities are those that have annual revenue of less than $250,000 in a year.

Medium charities, that applies as soon as the annual revenue is $250,000. And that goes all the way up to under $1 million. And then once an organisation hits that $1 million in annual revenue, it is considered large.

Now, you made a really important point just before, Chris, in your differentiation of revenue. It’s really important that charities understand that the determinant or the way that we calculate the different sizes is revenue.

Sometimes we get asked questions about income. Income is a little bit different. Revenue is the way that the ACNC calculates size. And that really relates to the ordinary operations of the charity. So income can include some other things that are outside the scope of revenue.

Chris Riches

Okay, okay. Now, this is the current situation, and we’ll emphasise that importantly. What you see in front of you right now is the current situation.

Now, I’ll flick over to the next slide here, these are the thresholds that are going to be in place as of the 2022 AIS period. Now, obviously they're going to change.

Mel, are you able to run us through what these changes are? And also perhaps just provide that little bit of information about the timing of when these changes would come in.

Mel Yates

Thanks, Chris. It’s really important to do that. So the previous slide, we talked about the existing thresholds. They apply to any charity that is lodgings its 2021 Annual Information Statement. So these threshold changes come into play at the earliest from the first of July 2022.

So the very earliest it will be will be the start of July this year, noting though that there are still many charities that haven't completed their 2021 reporting. So when they do their 2021 Annual Information Statement, it is the old thresholds which apply.

The new ones that we’re going to talk about right now, they will apply to the 2022 Annual Information Statement.

And you’ll see there, there’s quite a big change. So small entities, when they do their 2022 AIS, small entities will be those that have revenue less than $500,000. So it's quite a big increase compared to where we are currently.

Medium organisations will be those with annual revenue of $500,000 all the way up to and below $3 million. Once an organisation hits that $3 million mark, it will be considered large under these new thresholds.

Chris Riches

Now, we’ve got up on screen here - there it is - a little table for you just to provide you with a bit of a comparison and a little bit of information about where we’re going with these threshold changes. We’ve also included this table as a handout as part of this webinar. So if you go to the Handouts tab of the GoToWebinar interface, you’ll be able to grab it and hold on to it so you have that information.

When we look at this table, Mel, I guess the thing that stands out to me is the shift in what will be designated or classified as a small charity when these new thresholds come in.

For example, if we’re looking charities that might have their annual revenue at, say, $350,000 right now, small charity - oh, I’m sorry - right now, medium charity. When the changes come in, they’ll be classed as a small charity for their 2022 AIS reporting.

Is it fair to maybe say that this is one of the more significant changes that these new thresholds are going to bring about?

Mel Yates

Absolutely, Chris. It’s a really, really good point. So there’s a really large number of organisations that are registered charities that are currently small. And that’s where the bulk of those organisations which are on the charity register, that’s the area in which it's more concentrated. There’s more small charities than there are medium or large.

So with these thresholds increasing, what we’re going to see is that there’ll probably be around about 2500 charities which will shift from the medium size currently, under the new threshold they’ll be classified as small entities.

And there’s probably a similar number, maybe slightly more, which are going to be moving from the large size currently to be a medium-sized charity under these new reporting thresholds. So there’s going to be some changes to some of the reporting requirements that are associated with these entities.

Chris Riches

Yeah. Now, in looking at these threshold changes, there’s I guess an important context also in terms of the ACNC - I’ll stumble over that one - the legislative review. Mel, what were some of the recommendations of this review? And I guess in the context of the threshold changes that are going to be put in place.

Mel Yates

So this is actually one of the recommendations that was included in the legislation review.

Now, at a very broad, overarching level, most of the recommendations were focused on trying to balance red tape reduction while maintaining transparency, which is really important for the charity sector because we collect reporting, and that really helps to promote trust and confidence in charities.

There was also consideration around trying to reduce compliance levels. And maintaining proportionality.

So not overburdening entities with their reporting but trying to find that right balance between providing information so that there is transparency, there is accountability by organisations, but being mindful that we could lift the reporting thresholds.

So that was its own recommendation, and that is why these changes are taking place from July in 2022.

Chris Riches

Yeah. And I mean, you just mentioned there, Mel, the word balance. And that’s sort of by reading through, obviously, this slide, that’s I guess the vibe that I get, that there’s that balance to walk between ensuring that there is compliance, there is the trust and confidence in other things, but also the burdening of charities or the overburdening of charities as well.

That balance is absolutely key, isn’t it?

Mel Yates

It is, absolutely. And that’s why - there was some different scenarios put in the final report, but this is - these changes are the ones that government have agreed are in conjunction with our peers in different states and territories.

Chris Riches

Now, with - and I pre-empt by putting this slide up - with thousands of charities shifting from medium to small or even from large to medium, this means these charities, as Mel mentioned, they will see changes in their reporting requirements to the ACNC in the 2022 AIS reporting period.

Now, a timely reminder here just what those reporting requirements are from a basic standpoint. This is also with a little bit of a look at what the impacts are of these changed thresholds.

Again, this table is available through the Handouts tab in the GoToWebinar interface as well if you want to grab it, download it, and keep it. So have a bit of a look.

Mel, if you could maybe just take us through what some of these major impacts will be at this level, I guess the things that we’re looking at here are the things that might change in the column on the right of the table, I suppose.

Mel Yates

Thanks, Chris. So as you outlined a bit earlier, charities that previously were medium-sized charities, they will now be small-sized charities.

And that is a big change because under the ACNC reporting framework, financial reports are not required. They're not mandatory for small-sized charities. If a charity is a medium-sized charity, then it does need to provide financial reports. So a really big change there.

There’s a lessening, if you like, of the preparation of financial statements and giving those to the ACNC.

There is also some changes in the Annual Information Statement. So there’s fewer financial reporting labels for charities that might be familiar with providing certain information as a medium-sized entity.

When they do their 2022 Annual Information Statement, they might notice a difference in some of those labels that they have to complete.

Chris Riches

And what about for charities that might be shifting down from being large down to medium? What's the go there, Mel?

Mel Yates

So, good point, Chris. The requirement to prepare financial statements is still there. So there’s no different to that need to prepare financial statements.

However, the assurance element associated with those financial statements, that can change. So large charities have to get an audit of their financial statements, whereas medium-sized charities, they are able to get their financial statements reviewed.

So it's a different level of assurance. So there is a big shift there.

Again, some slight changes to the reporting labels in the Annual Information Statement. And you’ll see there that there’s that link to the ACNC website that’s got more detail on some of those changes.

But in summary, they're the most important ones.

Chris Riches

Yeah. And that link there, the acnc.gov.au/ReviewAudit, yeah, look, go have a look to learn a little bit more about the, dare I say, it the nitty-gritty of not only reviewing and auditing a financial report but the difference in the assurance level, as Mel mentioned, between the two.

So if you want to learn a little bit more, have a good reference point there, that’s the spot to go and have a look.

Now, it's important to note here that these changes do, I guess, open up options. They open up flexibility in some ways for charities when it comes to their reporting.

We emphasise, of course, that obviously charities reporting have to meet ACNC legislative requirements.

Would it be also fair to say that we would, I guess, continue to encourage charities moving from medium to small, we keep encouraging them to submit some annual financial reports as well? Would we, Mel?

Mel Yates

Absolutely. So, there’s always the option. Even though it's not mandatory, there is always the option for small-sized charities to provide financial reports if they're being prepared.

And quite often, organisations need to prepare them for other reasons. So there’s a significant number of small-sized charities already on the charity register that do provide their financial statements as part of their reporting.

So that’s a demonstration that charities are interested in being accountable with the funds that they have in order to run their charity. And they're being provided on a voluntary basis.

So, it's very evident that there is I guess a desire by many charities to make sure that they're fully transparent, that people are able to find out information about their financial affairs. And that’s why they voluntarily provide those reports to the ACNC.

So in order to help maintain trust and confidence in charities, the more information that is available about charities helps the public stakeholders and donors to understand what a charity is doing, how they're using their resources.

And so that’s why it helps to provide that information if they've been prepared for other reasons.

Chris Riches

Yeah. And also, I guess a good place to again remind charities that these changes do obviously link back to the ACNC’s red tape reduction efforts as well, don’t they, Mel?

Mel Yates

Absolutely. So these changes have been put in place, really, to balance the compliance burden, noting that there is benefits in providing reporting to the ACNC, which really enables the transparency of the charity sector.

But as we mentioned a little bit earlier, it's a balancing of trying to implement red tape reduction initiatives while maintaining the accountability and the transparency of charities.

And I guess proportionality is really, really important.

So as the size of the ACNC charities increase, so too does the requirement to provide additional information.

And we see that from a medium-sized charity that is required to prepare financial reports, and then a large-sized charity is required to have an audit of those financial statements.

Whereas a medium-sized charity, while it does have to prepare financial statements, they can be reviewed under the ACNC reporting framework.

So it's trying to balance the transparency and accountability while minimising the resources that charities need to invest in being accountable to the ACNC as the charity regulator.

Chris Riches

Definitely. Now, as you can see, we’re talking about what charities can do in the lead-up to these changes. We’ve obviously outlined them. We’ve outlined why they're important. We’ve outlined and looked at the impact, the positive impact that they can have on many charities here in Australia.

Again, we emphasise here that these changes are not coming into force until the reporting period that’s going to be covered by charities’ 2022 Annual Information Statement.

So charities, as Mel mentioned earlier, that still need to complete their 2021 Annual Information Statement, when they do, they will still be using the thresholds that are currently in place. And that’s the thing that will guide them in terms of their reporting obligations.

Once the 2022 Annual Information Statement is the one that you need to complete - and look, it's only sort of months away now - for many charities, that 2022 Annual Information Statement period is either the financial year, which will be run from 1 July 2021 until 30 June 2022, or for some charities, it might be on a calendar year, which is from the first of January 2022 till the end of December.

Mel, given that this will shape charities’ reporting, obviously, in the very near future, what are some of the things that they can do now to prepare for the changes? What are some of the things they can act on? But what are some of the things they should perhaps be thinking about as well?

Mel Yates

I think it's a really, really important point to make, Chris, particularly those charities which are going to be moving from a medium-sized to a small size, there is a need to make sure that recordkeeping obligations are maintained.

So even though your charity may be moving into a small size, which means that there is not an obligation to prepare financial statements, every charity must keep records in case financial statements do need to be prepared at any point in future.

So just because the financial statement requirement won’t be there in the future, there is still the requirement to maintain records, comprehensive records, financial records, operational records so that financial statements can be prepared if required at a point in time.

Chris Riches

I might just -

Mel Yates

The second point there on - sorry, Chris?

Chris Riches

No, I was going to say I might just jump in there too. We do have information on the website if you look up and search for ‘recordkeeping.’ That will cover - there’s information there that covers not only the financial recordkeeping that charities need to do but also the operational recordkeeping as well, how some of these records can be kept, how long you've got to keep them for, and what they've got to cover.

So again, if you're in doubt or if you're not 100% sure, go and have a look.

And there’s nothing that stops any charity exceeding those standards as well and ensuring that their recordkeeping is not only meeting standards but exceeding them. So, definitely go and have a look on the website for the information that we have on recordkeeping.

Sorry, Mel. I’ll let you go again.

Mel Yates

All good. Very good points, Chris. Accountability to members. So the second dot point there on the slide, that is one of the Governance Standards that most charities need to comply with.

So I guess this is really a point about making sure, what is your charity doing to be accountable to its members, if it has members? Is there a need to prepare financial statements into the future, or is other reporting more suitable to ensure that members are aware of the operations of the charity and know how resources are being used?

And I guess that third point is really around other obligations. So every charity should have a governing document which should outline its core information. And there may be a requirement within the charity’s governing document to prepare financial statements.

So even though the charity may not need to do that under the ACNC legislative framework, there still might be a requirement within the governing document to continue some of that reporting. So it's a good time to review your charity’s governing document and familiarise yourself with any obligations that the charity has agreed should apply.

Chris Riches

Now, those - and just quickly, too, Mel, the requirement that we write here, requirement elsewhere to prepare these statements, that might be linked to the charity’s structure. But it also obviously might be linked to other obligations they have to other parts of government or other people or bodies they report to. That's fair to say, yeah?

Mel Yates

Absolutely, absolutely. And it's a really good point that you make, because we’re only one of the regulators, quite often, for charities. Quite often, there might be a requirement to acquit, whether it's a grant or provide information about fundraising appeals. So we’re only one part of the regulatory puzzle. So it's a really, really good point, Chris.

It’s important that your charity understands all of its compliance obligations, all of its reporting obligations so that it is able to understand whether it does need to prepare financial statements for someone else or for another purpose, even though they're not required to the ACNC.

Chris Riches

Now, for charities shifting from large to medium, again, there might be some things they can look at. What are a couple of things we’ve highlighted here?

Mel Yates

So one thing that we’ve touched on a couple of times is the different assurance requirements. So a large charity must get an audit undertaken each year. A medium-sized charity is able to get a review to meet the ACNC reporting requirements.

Now, there is a difference between an audit and a review. So, for charities in this scenario, moving from a large-sized to a medium-sized charity, it's important to have a think about what is your charity going to do. Is there a need to continue to have an audit? Or to meet the requirements, the minimum requirements under the ACNC legislative framework, is a review suitable?

And again, this goes back to making sure that you're aware of what is in your governing document, that your charity is aware of any other requirements that they may have to other parts of government, or to any other funding bodies or any other requirements that might exist.

And I guess it's a really important point to make that if someone else is expecting financial reports from your charity and they're expecting them to be audited or that is outlined in your charity’s governing document, then you need to make sure that your understanding is clear on that.

And it's important that your start to think about having a discussion within your charity. What is your charity going to do? Make sure that everyone’s familiar and aware and understands decisions that are being taken. Because it might be something that you need to discuss and make a decision on.

Chris Riches

Yeah. And I guess with that too, the changes that are coming into place from an ACNC perspective, these are not going to be changes that are going to be in place with other regulators.

As was mentioned earlier, we’re not the only regulator in this space here, and it's important to realise that if there are other regulators, other agencies that require your charity to seek out and ensure that you have a certain level of assurance with your reporting, with your financial reporting, that you actually do that no matter what the changes are and what changes might be at an ACNC standpoint. So again, as you said, Mel, familiarise yourself. Make sure you know what is required, not only just from us but also from other regulators as well.

We’ve got - and we’ll get a little bit meta here. We’re going to refer to another webinar.

In 2021, we did a bit of a dive, a deep dive on financial reporting for charities. Now, I think that was - I’ll stand to be corrected here. I think that might have been in June last year.

But it's up on our site, if you go to acnc.gov.au/webinars and scroll down to the previously held webinars. It’ll be there.

It’s also available via our YouTube as well, which is YouTube.com/user/ACNCVideos. We’ve got that linked, so that’s all right.

Have a look at this webinar as well. It will provide your charity with some pretty decent information about things from a financial reporting perspective, what's required. Again, thresholds as well, but also review and audit, levels of assurance, details that are required and that sort of stuff. So that’s well worth a look as well.

So I’ll now, not refer to a webinar within a webinar. We’ll move onwards. We’re sort of getting near the end of things here, so we’re going to round up with about five, six quick tips that we hope you want to take away and keep in your brains as you wander off into the day.

I guess the first one - and again, it's a reminder more than anything is that these changes are not going to be coming into place until the 2022 Annual Information Statement period. So those charities that haven't filled out their 2021 Annual Information Statement need to use the thresholds that are currently in place when doing so. Please fill out your 2021 Annual Information Statement if you haven't done it as well. Once charities start looking at 2022, that’s when the changed thresholds will come into play.

Our second tip here is changes or impending changes to charity size and reporting obligations mean that charities’ reporting is going to be more in line with their scope of their work.

We’ve talked about that balance, that proportionality as well. So bear that in mind. It comes back again to the ACNC’s work in cutting red tape for the sector. Then another couple here, Mel, if you want to jump in and take us through these things.

Mel Yates

Thanks, Chris. So, think about what these changes mean. If your organisation is going to be impacted and is going to change size, familiarise yourself with what those changes are and start to plan so that you are aware, others within your charity are aware of what the changes mean and how your organisation is going to be affected.

Which leads on to point number four. It’s really important that you communicate within your organisation so that everyone who is responsible for making decisions about the charity understands what reporting your charity will prepare and what obligations it needs to think about in order to meet the ACNC reporting requirements.

Chris Riches

Yeah, yeah. And one more. Mel, I’ll let you do the honours.

Mel Yates

One more. So recordkeeping. We touched on this a little bit earlier. It’s really important that charities have a system and a process for keeping records.

And Chris, you outlined the importance of that and the resources that exist on the ACNC website about recordkeeping. But it's important that your charity keeps records, financial records, operational records.

The records need to be able to be used if they need to in a future point, at a future point in time to prepare financial statements. So your charity must have adequate records and adequate system and a process to maintain and capture records that are needed to prepare financial statements if they are needed at a future point in time.

Chris Riches

So there might be a bit of timely thing we’ve talked about, having a look and making sure your familiar with your governing document and also perhaps making sure that you are familiar with what you're doing now in terms of reporting, what you will need to have a bit of a discussion with the relevant people in your charity.

Again, this might be a bit of a timely thing to have a look at how exactly your charity does keep its records, what the processes, what the systems are. And if they need a bit of a polish, maybe now’s the time to have a look and ensure that they're up to - not only up to standard but up to where they actually should be, I suppose.

Look, that’s probably - from our end, we’ve almost gotten to the end of the formal side of things. Now, we’ve had questions going backwards and forwards and pinging around. Feel free to keep sending your questions through. Matt and Eric and Kat are obviously still there and still typing away and answering them.

We’ve had a couple come through during proceedings today. We also had some come through just before the session today as well.

One that has come through and that has been asked by a few people, Mel, in I guess slightly different wording, but pretty much what it's asking is there’s been I guess a decent number of charities who for a variety of reasons - probably some of them rather predictable, given what's been going on over the past couple of years - have seen their revenue or I guess their income - but in our words, revenue - fluctuate. Might go up, might go down.

It’s perhaps put them in a position where they've gone from one threshold to another, or are looking to perhaps go from one threshold to another. If that occurs, what can charities do? There is a way that they can perhaps maintain their size if they believe that this is a one-off? Is that a fair way to put it, Mel?

Mel Yates

Absolutely. So we do have something called Keep Charity Size at the ACNC, and this is allowed under our legislation. And this is particularly important for organisations that might get a one-off windfall.

They might get a large donation, or there might be a reason where they find themselves increasing in revenue for one year, but it's unlikely that that will continue into the future.

So on our website, Keep Charity Size is the information that is really, really relevant to look at.

And what that means is, the organisation can make an application to the ACNC, and there is a form that can be completed to do that whereby a charity outlines why it has received or why it thinks that the increase in revenue will only apply for one reporting period, and if the expectation is that in a future reporting period the revenue will drop again, we can make an assessment and occasionally provide that.

The ACNC is able to assess and provide the ability for charities to maintain or keep their charity size for a particular period. But the important point that you made, it only applies for one period. So if it's going to apply - if the increase is going to apply for successive or multiple years, then that is going to be a problem.

Chris Riches

Yeah, yeah. And that means, obviously, that you can’t apply for this if, as I called it, it isn’t ‘a oncer’. If you're going to genuinely move up in an ongoing way to a different level, a different threshold, then you're going to have to fulfill that threshold’s reporting requirements, whatever they may be.

So yeah, Keep Charity Size is the key phrase to type on the ACNC website in the search terms there to have a bit of a look.

One other one - and we’re getting close to - let's see, quarter to one our time, so I’ll whip through this one relatively quickly. We had a question that someone’s put to us that if the charity is in a situation where they may be going from large to medium or medium to small, and they are looking at the changed requirements in terms of, for example, not having to get their financials audited from an external audit, is there something that charities can do to say that they are happy with the financials as presented?

Is there something they can do or something they should look at doing internally to offer that assurance to their members, their volunteers, supporters, the wider world, I suppose, Mel?

Mel Yates

Yeah, that’s a really, really good question. So I’m going to sort of answer this in two ways. Firstly, I’m going to think about what the requirements are under the ACNC reporting framework.

So, if an organisation doesn't need to have an audit or doesn't need to have a review - and I’m thinking that that would probably be a small-sized charity - then there’s no assurance requirement. So the financial information in the annual information statement doesn't necessarily need to be checked or approved by anyone.

Obviously, people who are making decisions about the charity, they need to understand and be aware of the way the charity has earned its revenue and the way it has used its - or spent its funds, so the expenditure side of things. So that’s really important.

But there’s no requirement from this question to get any audit or review. If I look at it from another perspective, the governance standards, which we touched on a little bit earlier, that most charities need to comply with, there is a requirement to make sure that members have sufficient opportunity to get information about the way the charity has used its resources and understand what the charity has done with the resources that have gone to the charity.

So, I think that’s really important to enable members or directors or volunteers or those who are charged with governance, which is a term that is sometimes used - really, that means that the decision makers, those who are controlling the charity - it's really important that opportunity is given, reasonable opportunity is given so that members and other people involved in the charity can have an ability to ask questions and understand the way the charity has used its resources.

So on the one hand, if you don’t need to get an audit or a review, you don’t have to. But it's probably really good practice, best practice, to make sure that people see the finances and understand the way funds have been received and the way funds have been used within the charity. So hopefully that answers your question, Chris.

Chris Riches

And oftentimes too - I mean, you talk about presenting financials to members and to - oftentimes, it's a very important part of an annual general meeting, for example, where the financials are presented, where people can stand up and do stand up and say, “Hey, what's the story with this? Where did this go? How did we get this money or funding or whatever?”

So even from that perspective as well, I guess, that you’ve got to look at how you are reporting back to your people, in a way. So be very mindful of that as well would be my two cents’ worth, I suppose, on that.

Look, from our end, hey, I think we might be done. We’re going to maybe wander out 10 minutes early and let you get to either lunch or morning tea. Here is some information on your screen where you can stay in touch with us, through the website, obviously through the Contact Us, Our Charitable Purpose e-monthly that goes out.

Obviously, the guidance and publications that we have too. And on socials and all those sorts of things.