Transcript

Chris Riches

Good afternoon, good morning, depending on where you are.

Hello. Happy New Year to everyone. Welcome to our first ACNC webinar for 2021, in which we're going to explore some of the things that charities should be doing right now in a bid to get their year started out on the right foot.

My name's Chris Riches. I'm from the ACNC's Education Team. Joining me today is Matt Crichton. Hi, Matt.

Matt Crichton

Hello. Hello, everyone.

Chris Riches

Quickly, before we start, as always, just some housekeeping points. If you've got some issues with the webinar audio, you can have a go at listening through your phone. To do that, call the number listed in the email you would have received when you signed up to this webinar, put in the access code and listen to the webinar that way.

You can type a question at any time throughout the webinar. We've got Bree and Gulnaar helping us out and responding to questions that come in. We'll try and answer as many as we can that come through and as they come through, but if your question isn't answered, please feel free to send us an email and we'll get back in touch with you. That can be to education@acnc.gov.au.

We're recording this webinar as well. The recording and the presentation slides will be published on the ACNC website within the coming day or so and we'll also send out an email with website links featured in this webinar so you don't have to write everything down.

There's also a handout with a number of those links that you'll have received as well and have access to already. Finally, as always, we value your feedback, so if you've got any suggestions for ways we can improve our webinars, let us know through the short survey at the end of today's proceedings.

All righty, preliminaries done. What are we going to cover today, Matt?

Matt Crichton

We all can have a look at the dot points there on the screen which show our plan for today's webinar.

As the title of the webinar suggests, we are going to go through some of the ways that charities can begin 2021 on the right foot and set themselves up for a good year because, as we all know, last year was a bit of a touch one, of course, and some of the challenges that many charities face will have spilled over into 2021.

We hope today's webinar will provide a good overview of some of the things a charity can do to make sure it is, well, heading in the right direction, I suppose.

We'll have a look at some ACNC obligations, lessons from 2020, and I suppose how to harness them to improve on 2020 and make 2021 a success. Your charity's people. Policies and governance.

We'll look at funding and fundraising and we'll touch on collaboration as the final bit. Of course, some of the things we will mention today will be discussed in direct relation to what happened in 2020 with the pandemic and all the challenges that came from that. That's to be expected. But there will also be some things we'll talk about today that will be relevant for all times and not simply in response to last year's challenges and they'll be worth remembering no matter what the context.

Okay, back to you to have a look at the first one.

Chris Riches

Good place to start when we have a look at some of the bits and pieces is a quick little reminder of some of the obligations charities have to the ACNC, particularly when it comes to reporting.

Many charities will have had a January 31 date circled in their calendar as the date by which they had to submit their Annual Information Statements. That's for charities operating on a standard financial year - July 1 to June 30. January 31 was the deadline for those Annual Information Statements.

If you've got there, done it and got it completed by that due date, thank you very much. Great work. Well done. There are some other bits and pieces and other charities looking to complete their AISs in the very near future, isn't there Matt?

Matt Crichton

Yeah and if you are part of a charity that has to do this pretty soon, there are just a few things - not only do the AIS but, as it says on the slide here, interact with the ACNC through the charity portal, for whatever reason. There are a few important things to remember.

I'll let you go through these, Chris.

Chris Riches

That's all right. The first one is, as it says there, is your charity's Address for Service up to date? Now, Address for Service, again that's the address through which we, the ACNC, contact your charity and it's usually an email.

Vital that's correct because, obviously, if that's not correct, we can't get in touch with you with all the important bits and pieces that we may need to get in touch with you about.

Are your Responsible People - they're the people who are, as it suggests, responsible for the direction and the governance of your charity board or committee, trustees - are they listed correctly in the Charity Portal?

Now, it's not uncommon for charities to make changes at their AGM, for example, even early in the new year when there might have been some people arrive, some people leave.

It's important to make sure that those details are up to date, so that's a good starting point there for your charity.

And as it says here, there's a question about whether the right people can access the Charity Portal.

If you need help logging into the Portal, there's plenty of support on the ACNC website. Go to acnc.gov.au/charityportal. That can help you out there.

Just on the portal too, if you had some changes occur in the last little while, people coming or going, or new Responsible People, it's a good time to review who has access to the portal, as it suggests here, who needs access and also who no longer needs access.

Maybe put this on the agenda at your next meeting to discuss and act on, or simply take action if you already know what these changes might be.

Remember that the people who need to access the Portal should also use their own email address and not a generic one used by others or else there can be some confusion in bits and pieces when it comes to logging in and logging out.

That's one to discuss early in the new year, I suppose.

Matt Crichton

Just quickly, those first two points too. Although it makes sense from an administrative point of view within your charity to have those things up to date, they are actually also requirements of registration with ACNC to update and so if they have changed there is a requirement to notify the ACNC of changes to the address for service and to any of the Responsible People listed with the charity.

So, yes, while it's great as piece of administrative work that'll help you manage your charity operations, it is also a requirement of registration with the ACNC to do so.

Now, we'll get onto the Annual Information Statement because, of obligations to the ACNC, it's probably the most pressing for most people at this stage. A couple of things that charities should remember if they are to submit one soon.

Visit the ACNC's Program Previewer. Now, this is relevant because there's a new section in the Annual Information Statement that asks charities to provide details about their programs, the work that they do.

It may be unfamiliar to people, given that it's new, so we've set up a practise one, a practise section on the website that you can use to, as it says here, draft your responses, put in the types of programs you have and have a look at the types of categories that are available for you to categorise each of the programs.

Our webinar from last year, actually, if you go to our webinars page on the website, looks at this section in detail so if you wanted some more assistance there you can have a quick look at that recording. And just make sure the programs you put in are an accurate reflection of your charity's work at the moment.

Eventually, these details will be published on the Charity Register and it's a way for people to be able to find your charity.

If someone's looking for a charity that does such and such a program, they'll be able to look for that on the charity register and that result, that presence on the charity register, will come up based on the information that you put into the Annual Information Statement.

So, it really is worth having a think about this. What are the sorts of things, what are the programs you want to show up for your charity on the charity register that can then be used by the public, potential supporters, potential donors, in searching for a charity that they want to support.

If you think about it in that way, it is a pretty important one to get right and make sure you're putting forth the right information.

Chris Riches

There's a look at noting any changes perhaps to your charity's size as well and how they might affect your charity's reporting obligations.

One thing to think about here is obviously JobKeeper.

If there's been some benefits received there or whether that's affected your charity's size when you're going through your Annual Information Statement doing your reporting, please ensure that you know that. If you've gone from a small to medium-size charity, for example, make sure that's accurately noted and recorded on your Annual Information Statement.

Again, your charity may have been lucky enough to have an increase in revenue, for example, and it's again crossed that threshold from, say, small to medium charity or even medium to large charity.

Make sure that you note it, but also what happens, too, is this can alter the reporting obligations that you have, including the need to submit maybe more detailed or more audited financial reports.

So, if this is the case for your charity, remember that the ACNC allows also to have charities keep their current charity size for a one-off increase in revenue.

So, if the increase in revenue was temporary and not ongoing, you can go to, again, our website acnc.gov.au/charitysize for more information on that sort of stuff.

Matt Crichton

And while we are talking about finances there, financial reporting, I've just got some new information on the website that covers many of the things you'll need to know about reporting to the ACNC through the Annual Information Statement and the financial information that you'll have to provide.

Have a look at that. We've got the link there. That will also be in the handout that you've got and the follow-up email that we send after this.

But just on JobKeeper, keep in mind that as we speak it is scheduled to wrap up in March but keep your eyes on any news for updates on this.

Changes to JobKeeper, of course, may mean changes to a charity's income, so one task to keep in mind as we get through February is whether your charity has made any projections based on the ongoing receipt of JobKeeper payments and something worth considering.

Just be cautious on it, of course, as well. The basics apply: don't overcommit based on income you may not receive and factor in possible losses of those sorts of payments in any forward thinking as you get through the first half of this year.

Of course, this is largely common sense I suppose and most charities already consider these factors when forecasting but it is worth mentioning.

Chris Riches

We've looked at some of those ACNC-related details and information-statement-related details.

There are of course some other things that you can do to help your charity get its 2021 off on the right foot and one here, as suggested on the screen, is bringing some of your lessons from last year into this year.

For many reasons, 2020 was a challenging year. We all know the drill; we all know the story there.

Charities had to make changes as well in what they did and how they went about what they did. Think about perhaps some of the things your charity was forced to do and the ways that this had to adapt.

Have a bit of a think about that and ask yourselves what did you learn from 2020? What things did you do in 2020 that worked, that perhaps helped your charity, that proved to be beneficial to its operations?

It might be something as simple as the much parodied idea of remote meetings. Many organisations were thrust into having to stage remote meetings as a norm, rather than meeting than person and/or perhaps even to meet remotely more often than what they would have done normally in person.

It proved to be a bit of a mixed bag for some charities; for some organisations overall it worked well. For others it may not have.

That's just one example, obviously, and it may shape the way your charity chooses to do things in the future. As the effects of the COVID pandemic, hopefully, decrease, taking advantage of some of the benefits offered by our adventures perhaps into things like remote work will be important.

Another might be the way that your charity planned its work, carried out its financial projections, or monitored projects even.

Did your charity need to put your focus on a more short-term basis when carrying out some of these tasks last year? Did you seek out more detailed feedback, set in place perhaps better planning, or different planning, allocated resources differently?

In doing so, what proved to be beneficial and what proved to be worth perhaps carrying with you?

If something worked for your charity last year, put it in your tool bag and take it with you into this year. Don't be afraid of taking some of the positive things with you as you step forward into the new year and be openminded about it, be adaptable about it as well.

Take the lessons that you learnt and take them forward with you. Just because some of the restrictions that we have had in recent times have lifted and have altered, it doesn't mean that you have to do away with some of the new ways, the innovative ways, the different ways that you've managed to get through some of these difficult times.

So, take on board perhaps what worked and what did the right thing by your charity and bring it with you into 2021.

Matt Crichton

Yeah, for sure. Embrace the stuff that worked because it's forced a change in behaviour and if that forced change of behaviour has worked out to be something good and official, that's the silver lining in all of this.

I suppose you can take it into the next year and beyond the pandemic to improve your charity's operations. And on the flip side of this coin - I will move over this slide actually on time, not like the last one that I left the previous one up for way too long - let's be honest about what didn't work in 2020.

Again, maybe the remote meetings work was just simply not effective for what it is that you do or what it is that your charity needs, so make the change in focus on certain tasks and charity efforts.

Maybe it turned it into more micromanaging and that didn't really work. So, a good step in 2021 is to decide which ones are worth leaving in the past, which ones are worth leaving as lessons from the strange year of 2020 and not doing any more.

Adjust your charity's work processes to reflect new ways we've done things and use the newfound familiarity to find permanent improvements to your charity's operations.

Last year worked as a good, unexpected, but nonetheless a good experiment in new ways of working to figure out how to do things that you wouldn't have ordinarily had the chance to do, so it's worth keeping that in mind.

Discuss what didn't work with your charity board and senior management or everyone - depends on how big or small your charity is - and make that part of your plans for 2021 and beyond.

Chris Riches

Now, for a lot of the past 12 months, many charities, many organisations ended up a little bit more fixated on what was immediately in front of them. Head down, bum up, eyes and focus on short-term task and entirely understandable too.

But an important thing to keep in mind as we move now in 2021 is, for your charity and your people to remember how to look up, have the ability to change your focus, avert your gaze and do so from what's right in front of you and what's right in front of your faces, to look at perhaps your charity's wider operating context, in a way.

Matt Crichton

Yes, many charities will have come to terms with lots of new ways of operating and will have had to deal with significant changes, not least of which to do with funding.

So now may be the time to consider the charity's longer term as well as getting through the everyday; whereas 2020 really put the everyday, for a large chunk of the year, in the forefront of everyone's minds.

I suppose the relative easing of the challenges from the pandemic and a bit of a lull in what we had to deal with last year has arrived, so it's a chance to set the sites a little bit higher again.

Chris Riches

Now, one way or one component of this is your charity's people, its staff and its volunteers at that level. For many people, obviously again, it's been a challenging time.

Your charity should regularly check in with volunteers and staff during difficult times or at any time, really.

Some things to think about here: ask how are your charity's people; how are your people? Have their challenges, their own challenges, left them less able or unable to support your charity in the way that they may have done so in the past or resulted in them maybe only being able to support your charity in different ways or in more limited ways.

If that's the case, what effect will this have on your charity? How will it work with these changed circumstances?

Are there people, for example, who might not be able to contribute in-person but could contribute virtually.

Are there fewer volunteers able to help with fundraisers, for example, and again we're going to have a look at that topic in a few minutes as well.

Matt Crichton

Yeah, how can your charity best work with its volunteers in 2021? We had to make a bunch of changes in 2020 and some of those will have affected different charities in different ways, but it's worth thinking about the charity's plans for the next 6-12 months and thinking whether or not your volunteers fit into those plans in the same way that they did prior to everything being disrupted in 2020.

Of course, lots of us would love to just rewind the clock and go back to how it was and how it was working comfortably and in a familiar way before the pandemic hit in 2020, but it may be that the changes to the charity's circumstances means that we can't just pick up what was working in 2019 and plonk it into 2021.

So, think about how your charity can best work with its volunteers, how the volunteers will fit into the charity's plans, given the disruption of 2020, and speaking with the charity's board and the people in charge of making decisions in making that work.

Have a look at our resources there, acnc.gov.au/engagingvolunteers, for some tips on doing that.

Now, on the charity's people, it may be that your charity has lost staff or volunteers. Maybe that was forced on you; maybe it was a decision of the volunteers and the staff themselves, given what happened last year.

But there are some important questions to think about for 2021. What's it going to mean for your charity? Are you going to have to recruit new volunteers? If so, how many and to do what? Is there a need for specialist knowledge or experience in recruiting staff volunteers?

Are you going to have to shift responsibility for some roles from staff to volunteers and again this will be different for different charities, depending on your work, but it is a consideration for many.

How are any changes in the staff volunteer levels going to affect the charity's work? Will there be a change in programs? Will there be maybe a scaling back on plans that were set a little while ago? You may have to re-examine the programs that are relying on staff or volunteers or certain expertise.

But on the flip side, also you could expand ones that were able to succeed given the remote working challenges. And again, just on JobKeeper, that is ending soon, so how is that going to affect how many staff members your charity can realistically afford to keep on.

Chris Riches

Now for some other things to consider. If you've gained, if your charity's gained or lost some staff or some volunteers, it's probably a good idea and a good time to have a think about whether there are particular skills or abilities or knowledge gaps that your charity has now that you will have to try and either fill or cater for.

Do you need to look at induction or training for new volunteers or staff that you are bringing on board to perhaps fill some of these skills and knowledge gaps or to take over a little bit from others who may not be able to help you as they've done in the past.

Are your volunteer-related policies and induction policies up to the mark or do they need a little tweak? Do they need some updating? Do your staff or volunteers need other support to continue to support you and continue to help you? Can you provide it? Or do you know others who might be able to do so?

There are clearly a lot of things to think about when it comes to your people, be they volunteers or staff. How can your charity help people dealing with their own difficulties? Does your charity have the support available to know maybe where to direct people that need support?

There are many charities and other organisations that offer great services to people who are struggling, clearly. If your charity can't manage this sort of support on its own, and look, let's face it, it is probably a bit of a challenge, it's a good idea to make sure that you know where to direct people and where you can send them or refer them so that they can get some help.

A good way to start the year is to again examine your charity's situation and set in place processes to address any relevant issues.

It might be developing or updating policies, it might be recruitment and induction requirements, it might be engaging more closely with your staff and volunteers. And one more thing and we say this a bit: talk to your people, talk to your volunteers, talk to your staff. Chat with them.

Ask them questions about where they're at, perhaps. What might be impacting on them as volunteers or as staff? Be engaged with them. Sit down with them, understand what they might need. Understand perhaps there might be even very small things that your charity can do to keep them involved and engaged, as a mutually beneficial relationship in that way.

Ensure you have a dialogue with them and take the time to listen, to chat and take on board maybe the feedback they might have about their role. That's important. That's important as we move forward.

Matt Crichton

Yeah, people are the lifeblood of the charities, as these quotes here suggest, so make sure that you keep that at the forefront of the decisions you make in 2021 and beyond.

Now, I'll move on to some things to do for policies and governance, Chris.

Chris

Yeah, we at the ACNC, when we talk about policies, emphasise the importance of policies need to be living documents.

They can't just sit in the filing cabinet or on a hard drive or a memory stick, gathering actual or virtual dust, not well known, maybe unseen.

They need to be relevant, they need to be appropriate and they need to be fit for purpose and this is particularly the case as we waltz into 2021.

Matt Crichton

Yeah and a common recommendation is that charities review internal policies and procedures or processes every 18 months to two years. But some charities might want to do this a little bit more frequently, of course, given their particular circumstances.

During 2020, your charity may have found itself looking at its policies and wondering whether they were fit for purpose and appropriate given the challenges that you were faced with, with very little notice.

And of course 2020 provided a unique set of circumstances for many charities, so perhaps it wasn't the best context in which to judge long-term suitability for policies but, nonetheless, it acted as a catalyst for action on reviewing policies and at least having a look at them and becoming familiar with what they did state for your staff and volunteers.

And having had a look at them, it is important to have a think about in which ways they can be updated, they can be made more relevant for the current circumstances given the lessons of 2020 and how they can effect a more sustainable way in the medium to long term.

And some of them may work and some of them may need some rewriting or just some updating.

Chris Riches

And some of the policies that might need a review - and of course this depends on your charity's circumstances - but some of them that might need a review, some of them might more commonly need a review or a bit of a lookover include, as we've mentioned just previously, policies and procedures relating to your volunteers.

The risk management policies and procedures that you may have. Look, 2020 might have been a real good test for some risk management policies. Did they stand up? Did they do the job or was there something that you found that just didn't seem to work or wasn't practical and that could be improved and that could be altered?

So, have a bit of critical look and a critical think at that.

Handover policies and procedures. This is especially relevant if there's been a turnover of people at your charity, or if you've had people who are changing roles in your charity as we exit one year and enter 2021.

Another one might be working conditions, remote working, which we've also touched on. If you've got policies in relation to some of these issues, remote working, even remote board meetings, acting as a Responsible person remotely, those sorts of things, how does this all work? How does this fit? What about perhaps if you've got staff leave or flexibility for people working from home? Will your charity offer remote work or remote meetings or that sort of stuff on a permanent or even semi permanent basis? How do your policies support this?

Again, another opportunity to have a look at these sorts of things.

Another one is the conflict of interest policy. Conflicts of interest and related party transactions, they are still among the most common issues that charities contact the ACNC about. We've got some great resources there at acnc.gov.au/conflictofinterest, so go and have a look at those as well.

One other one - your fundraising policy might well have been looked at or reviewed in the last 12 months, but if not, your charity should perhaps consider giving it a bit of a lookover given the everchanging fundraising landscape and the challenges that have been experiencing. We have some policy templates. You can see the link there on your screen. That's another useful template. Same address there.

There are also some other sites and other places around the lovely worldwide web where you can get some of this sort of information, some templates and some policy ideas and that sort of stuff. Our Community is one place. NFPLaw is another and we've got those links in the handout and if they are not, they will also be in the email that'll get sent out after this meeting.

Matt Crichton

It also may be a good time to review charity governance processes as well. Governance reviews, just something that gives charities a chance to look at their governance arrangements, how meetings are held, the decision-making processes, how effective the board is in doing its work, reviews, reporting, those sorts of things.

And if your charity has undergone some changes, it may have grown, it may have shrunk, or some of the people have left, changed some of its programs, then the Government's review can help.

It may need to alter the size of the board, for example. Does there need to be better monitoring of a specific program or project, perhaps through a subcommittee or someone specifically overseeing it?

Charities might set up a meeting of their board or Responsible People to carry out a review. But another option is to review policies and documents to see what's required.

A charity board or committee members might be asked to provide feedback, for example on areas of improvement or things they believe are being done well.

And again, we've said it a few times, but as we come out of the challenges of 2020 it might be a really good time to put this to staff and the Responsible People, the board and the committee, because there will have been many lessons learned and I suspect there'll be lots of important feedback that have come from the challenges of 2020.

And some of that feedback can lead to some really important improvements in a more permanent sense as we come out of the challenges of 2020.

Chris Riches

Another thing to look at here while we're talking reviews is your strategic plan. And as we suggest here on the screen, has your charity reviewed its strategic plan entering the new year?

This is a pretty good idea to have a bit of a look at this as a part of getting things going on the right foot in 2021. Strategic plans at their base level, they state your charity's vision or its mission and then they detail what your charity is doing to achieve these things, to achieve its mission, to live up to its vision.

Strategic plans often list goals or measurables. That provides some information and some important reference points on the progress that your charity is making towards its vision and its overall mission.

Matt Crichton

Keep the strategic plan in mind and keep reviewing it and looking at it and making changes, tweaking it according to the changes in the charity's environment, the changes that come that are unexpected as 2020 offered and then the changes that you can see coming in the short term or medium term.

Of course, how did last year affect the strategic plan? Did it change what the charity could do? Did it change the charity's broader mission and aims? Have a look at how you think it affected what you were planning to do and then how you think it should set the tone for the next 6, 12 or 18 months.

There are again plenty of reference points on developing and reviewing charity-strategic documents available on the web from both local and overseas sources and some of the ones Chris mentioned already have some great resources.

Our Community is a good one full of wonderful resources and Not-for-Profit Law also.

Now we'll have a look at some funding and fundraising issues.

Chris Riches

It goes without saying, virtually, that the fundraising landscape changed noticeably in 2020. And look, to be honest, there's still quite a bit that might be unclear about where things need to go even in these early stages of 2021.

There are a number of things that we simply don't know. We were lucky enough, our Commissioner, Gary Johns, was interviewed and featured as part of a recent piece in the Sydney Morning Herald and we've included that link in the handout.

And as was discussed in that piece, there's some level of consensus that the effects of COVID and all the bits and pieces that went last year on charity fundraising had been uneven and had been hard to quantify in a very specific or exact way.

Some charities experienced shortfalls in some areas of fundraising. They saw an increase in other areas. Others had expected a large shortfall, perhaps did better than what they expected.

As we noted or as our commissioner noted, Dr Johns described the effects as a very mixed bag across the sector. Significantly, though, he also indicated there might be a delayed impact for some groups in the charity sector, an impact that might not become entirely clear for a little while.

Matt Crichton

And smaller charities, charities perhaps with fewer reserves, less to fall back on, less diversity in the fundraising sources that they have, so in that sense more reliant on say a single source or something like that and less access to government-funded sources are probably the ones likely to be affected more.

For some, news ways of fundraising may have ended up being a big hit or miss, compared to what they've done before - virtual events or fundraisers, online platforms, that sort of thing.

Of course, we saw a big spike in their use in 2020 and the success of which will have varied depending on the purposes of each charity and what they got out of their previous fundraising strategies.

As we look into 2021, what can your charity being doing? What should it be doing given the lessons it learnt in 2020? At the start of the webinar, we did talk about that, taking the lessons from 2020 and applying them - the good ones - for use in 2021. Fundraising is definitely one that falls into this.

If online fundraising worked, running events online, having online campaigns, using social media more, so then you would have things like fundraising. If that worked, it's worth keeping that and making it part of your ongoing plans in the next little period.

If it didn't work as expected and of course it's not the magical way to lots of funding that some people think it is - it's not always going to work in the way that we hope - have a look at the things that didn't work and analyse them to see how you can use them for 2021 and beyond and make them work in a better way.

Chris Riches

As a charity, you might well have already reviewed some of your 2020 fundraising efforts and you might already be clear on what worked.

If you are, again ensure what worked can actually transfer into 2021, with a decent level of success as well. For example, and Matt just mentioned online efforts to fundraise or to attract or gain funding or donations.

There's been some interesting recent reports, again in the media, about how a number of charities in Australia had perhaps moved away, almost by absolute need, from face-to-face fundraising during 2020 and it shifted a bit more of their focus or a bit more of their concentration online and had targeted social media in a more analytical way in a bid to try and find donors and donations.

But if this has been something that you've done in 2020, how can it help in 2021, what part can it play in an overall fundraising strategy in 2021?

And you should consider the learning curve involved in doing new things. Although some initial results that you might have had with the new strategy may have been perhaps less than what you could have expected, ask if there's room for improvement, ask if you have a second or a third go at something, will it do better, will you get better at managing the new ways of fundraising and perhaps seen benefits coming from them.

Matt Crichton

We mentioned face-to-face fundraising and it may be that, for some areas, some aspects of the sector, there's an opportunity now to embrace face-to-face fundraising again in some sort of return, maybe a diluted version of what was once the norm in 2019.

We've seen a return of the ubiquitous Bunnings sausage sizzle, for example, in some recent times, so there are other fundraising or funding streams that your charity relied on in the past that are worth discussing for use again in the coming months.

That, of course, isn't going to apply to everyone given that we know there are different levels of restrictions in force across the country in different areas, so of course this depends on physically what you're allowed to do.

But it is worth considering a comeback of some of the things that you may have relied upon once upon a time as restrictions do ease and we would like to hope in a more permanent way. There have been reports that charity shops noted an upturn in customers early in 2021 with people coming back as the restrictions eased in certain areas.

Also, think about grants and grants programs. Obviously, some charities are in a better shape to apply for and perhaps receive grants funding than others, but grants are a funding stream that should at least be on all charities' radars.

As a minimum, something you can do is sign up for a service like Grants Connect. The URL for that which we will include in the follow-up email is grants.gov.au. That provides some information on current and upcoming Federal Government grants opportunities and allows you to search for grants that may be applicable for your charity.

So, if that's something you haven't considered seriously before, it's worth having a look at.

And there are also non-government online grant bulletins that you can sign up for which cover a range of both government and other philanthropic grants.

And closer to home, your local council may have some grants opportunities that could suit your charity, so it is worth a call or having a look at what they've got available to see if there's something that applies to the work that your charity's doing in your local community.

Chris Riches

And what else in this area? Donor engagement. Charities should be looking to make donor engagement and communication a priority, obviously to help retain existing donors and to attract new ones.

Get your information up to date on the Charity Register, fill in the Annual Information Statement, get your programs up there, as we mentioned earlier in this webinar.

Get on the front foot as well. Look at how you can diversify your funding stream so there are more opportunities that your charity can take advantage of, fundraising from different sources, using different methods, different ways - online, face to face, that sort of stuff.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket, is pretty much the lesson there. If you only draw from two or three sources of funding, have a think: should you be casting your net a little wider? A diverse fundraising sort of menu keeps fundraising balanced and ensures your charity is not just trying to draw everything from one source.

And again, referring back to our chat or our comments earlier on about policies, is your fundraising policy up to date? Is it relevant? Is it a living document? If not, you may need to review it.

Our ACNC Fundraising Hub, acnc.gov.au/fundraising has a lot of great information about fundraising as well as links to various state and territory organisations as well.

We've mentioned Our Community here. I'll give them a quick mention again. They've long talked about something they call the Seven Pillars of Fundraising as well as the importance of diversity in fundraising sources and how this helps charities sustainability. There's some information on their website about that as well.

And again, we mentioned earlier when we were talking about volunteers and staff: talk. Talk to your donors. Talk to those who do fundraising with you or on your behalf. Talk with them. Ask them questions. Ask what's affecting them. What do they see going on? What do they see out on - to use a hackneyed phrase - the frontline? What's the environment they're seeing with fundraising?

And donors, again take some time to talk with them, understand where they're at and continue to build the relationships and the dialogue there with them.

Matt Crichton

And we'll move onto collaboration now. This is the last one we'll cover before we get to some questions. Collaboration is something that some charities do overlook.

With collaboration, be that with business, community groups, government agencies at different levels, even other charities, would that help you make the best use of the resources and at the same time help you work towards the best outcomes for the beneficiaries?

Collaborating, working together, can come in a number of forms and it might be as simple as sharing resources or sitting down to discuss ways to address issues that your charity may face that it has in common with similar charities, be that by virtue of similar work you do or that you're in a similar geographically, under certain similar regulatory coverage.

So, have a think about collaborating with different organisations for different purposes.

Your charity, it could have a discussion about where there are beneficial opportunities to collaborate with others, be they large or small entities. But if you're doing so, if you're looking to do so meaningfully, I suppose, you'll need to have some pretty clear guidelines and policies that support your ventures into a collaboration with another organisation.

We've got some useful information about collaborating, in particular corporate partnerships, on our website, which will include a link in the follow-up email for you there. There's a guide, a webinar and a podcast which cover some of the ins and outs of venturing into a corporate partnership and what benefits that can have but also some of the drawbacks, so it's worth paying attention to some of those resources.

Chris Riches

Now we've got some quick tips. We've covered quite a bit of ground today, obviously, and again, obviously, every charity is unique and covering as wide a sweep of information as possible is something that we've endeavoured to do today.

But what we hope that we've achieved in doing so is that there's been some useful materials and some great tips and ideas and some thought starters, perhaps, for your individual circumstances, your charity's individual circumstances.

So, to wrap up today, we've got some takeaway points, some things to remember.

First couple. The first one, again we mentioned it, see what worked in 2020, carry it into 2021, if applicable. Take the lessons from last year's challenges and put them in your kitbag, good or bad, so that you know what you perhaps can pursue and what you might need to avoid.

Remember your reporting obligations. Now, that's to the ACNC through the Annual Information Statement, as well as to other regulators. Ensure that you have the information required. Ensure you can access the ACNC Charity Portal. If anything's change, you need to tell us as well.

And ensure you have the relevant details that might have changed or updated, actually updated.

Matt Crichton

Remember to think about the people that make up your charity and its work – volunteers, the staff. Have a look at the charity's situation. Consider the staff situation, recruitment levels, the work available, the need for volunteers, and critically assess how that's going to look in 2021.

Number four here: Are the policies and governance arrangements still in order? What did 2020 do to your charity that made you think about the policies that it had been based on and that its work had been based on, and how are they going to need to change going into 2021 and beyond?

Chris Riches

And the fifth thing to remember here is: again, what worked in 2020 that you can carry forward and integrate into your fundraising in 2021?

What did you have to put on the shelf, perhaps, in 2020, that might be able to make a comeback this year?

Remember to seek diversity in your funding sources, endeavour to cast your net wide and ensure your fundraising policy is relevant and is up to date, again given the context of what's occurred over the past 12-14 months or so.

Look, we've reached the end of our formal side of our presentation today. Again, just a reminder we're recording this webinar, so the recording and the prescription slides are going to be available on our website in the coming day or so.

Again, an email will be headed the way of everyone who registered, with some of the links that we've mentioned here, as well as the handout that you will have received as well.

Now, before we do go, we've got a few questions through during today's proceedings. I know some of you took the opportunity to ask a question or two beforehand as well, which was great. Thank you very much for doing that. The first one that a couple of people have asked about: programs and the program previewer and the Annual Information Statement, can charities provide a program with what's known as the same classification but different beneficiaries, those who it aims to help? What's the go with that one, Matt?

Matt Crichton

The funny thing about the program section of the Annual Information Statement is that it's good to think about it having a little bit of freedom in the way you answer it.

Ultimately, the information you put in there is going to show up on the charity register and be searchable for people that are using the register to find charities, whether they be supporters, donors looking for charities, looking for services. They're going to be able to use the charity register to find your charity and that's largely going to be through the information you put as programs.

So, having laid that contextual groundwork, it depends on how you want the programs to come across for your charity. It may be that you do put in a single program, one of your programs, that lists several beneficiaries, so when the people are searching for certain beneficiaries to help with the charity that they want to support, that program will come up.

It may be that you put in a program to streams of the same main program that focus on two different beneficiary types because you want those two programs to be presented in two different ways.

So, it can be done. You can put in a program that covers a range of beneficiaries. We like you to be as specific as possible, of course, because ultimately that will be beneficial for your charity if you are specific. But if you'd like to split up a larger program into its two/three/four streams, then that's another way of presenting the work that your charity does too and those streams may have specific beneficiary groups that are separate and independent of each other.

So, the short answer is, yes you can do it and there is that point about their being a little bit of leeway and freedom in the way in which you answer it based on how you want that information to come across for your charity.

But I will finish that answer with one point about there being a limit on ten. You can't go and list 400 programs. There's a limit on that section of the Annual Information Statement to 10 programs, so have a think about how you're going to present that information to a public in future and limit it to 10 as a maximum.

You have to put in at least one but the maximum's up to ten.

Chris Riches

We've also been asked as a little bit of a follow-up regards a strategic plan, which we mentioned during the webinar. How do you follow up or how should a charity follow up a strategic plan to analyse and look at what worked and perhaps what programs should be run in the next plan when it comes time to do that?

And look this is a good question and these strategic plans, they often start with a very high-level look at, as we mentioned, charity vision and charity mission, as well as the work that the charity is going to do to achieve these aims.

But an important part of these types of plans is to have some targets and goals for your charity's work that do actually provide a measure on its progress against the strategic aims that have been set out.

Progress on charity goals ought to be measurable. It's pretty simple. Your charity should be able to measure how its projects contribute to the overall goals, the overall mission, and they should be able to measure it by outlining clear targets and milestones that they hope will be achieved.

These targets might be quantitative, numbers-based, that sort of stuff, or they might be qualitative as well.

This means when you sit down to analyse programs and their success, you really should have a bit of a prebuilt idea of the goals are measurable, some of the targets that you can use when you're doing so, as a guide.

Now, of course there might be some times where these goals or measurables can get skewed. We've probably seen that in 2020. But this is where ongoing discussions, progress reports on projects and programs, that's where these things come into play.

The charity should be keeping an eye on things throughout the year, monitoring progress, discussing issues, seeing if anything's been skewed. And with all that context and monitoring and the necessary chats and discussions that go on, your charity is responsible.

People should be able to then more easily discuss what programs will be run and how and do so in a more informed manner.

Hopefully, that helps a little bit but having measurable goals is a key when it comes to looking at what programs are successful because you have to measure success against something.

So, having those goals built into such planning is vital, then you can go back and revisit those goals and see what happened with them.