Transcript

Moderator –Sam Lawry:

Welcome to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission webinar. What to do before you apply to register a charity.

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Good afternoon and welcome to the ACNC’s webinar on what to do before you apply to register a charity.

I’m Sam Lawry. I’m the Guidance & Education Manager at the ACNC, and with me is Matt Crichton, from our Communications team. We’ll be presenting today’s session.

Also assisting us today by answering your questions live during the webinar are:

    • Nicola Bennett, one of our Law Interpretation Specialists,
    • Li Luo, one of the ACNC’s Legal counsel, and
    • Matthew Petersen, NFP Risk Manager from the Australian Taxation Office.

This session aims to help you to know what issues you need to consider BEFORE applying to register an organisation as a charity, and what information you will need to have available when you do apply. We’ll be having a look at issues such as legal structure and charitable purpose.

There will be information for people who haven’t yet set up their charity and for those who have an existing not-for-profit but are considering whether or not to apply for charity registration. Depending on your situation, the information you need will be different, but we’ll try to answer as many of your questions as we can.

A few tips before we start

If you have any difficulties with the sound on your computer, try calling the phone number listed in the GoToWebinar control panel. If you would like to ask a question, you can type it at any time in the GoToWebinar panel, which should appear on the right-hand side of your screen. Use the chat or question box to ask a question. We’ll also allow some time for some questions at the end, after the formal presentation has finished, when we’ll stay online to chat.

We will answer your questions directly and privately, but if we think the answers would be useful for everyone, we can also respond to everyone – this will show the question and our reply. So, let us know if you want your question to be private, all attendees will be able to see the questions that we respond to and our answer.

We suggest you keep your questions general, rather than very specific and in a way that identifies your charity. If there are any questions we can’t answer during the webinar today - which may happen if we get a lot of questions, or very complex questions – we will provide answers at a later stage, by email. We’ll also provide contact phone numbers for specific queries, later in the webinar.

A recording of this webinar, and the transcript and slides, will be available on our website within a few days of the webinar. Finally, we value any suggestions you have to improve our webinars in the future. So please pass on your suggestions in the survey at the end of this session.

Sam

So, here’s a summary of what we’ll look at today:

  • A bit about us, and what we do and don’t do
  • An overview of what a charity is, compared with a not-for-profit
  • Thinking about whether to register or not
  • And then, what you need to do before you apply.

We’ll start with a quick overview of the ACNC, our role and what we do and don’t do.

Matt

Let’s look first at what the ACNC does. The ACNC is Australia’s national independent regulator of charities. We register charities, who can then say that they have:

    • met our requirements for registration, and
    • agreed to be accountable and meet our governance standards.

With registration, they are also able to apply for charity tax concessions and other benefits.

We maintain an online database of every registered charity in Australia. We regulate charities by reviewing their compliance with their obligations to us, including meeting the governance standards.

We look into concerns about charities raised by the public and other government agencies.We provide advice, guidance and education to charities on their obligations to the ACNC, and on good governance practice.

And finally, we have a responsibility in all of our work to try to reduce red tape for charities.

Sam

So we’ve covered what the ACNC does. But what doesn’t the ACNC do?

We do not resolve internal disputes within charities

The ACNC only deals with complaints and issues that relate to the legal requirements for charities under the ACNC laws. Other organisations that may be able to assist with internal disputes include dispute resolution centres in your state, such as the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

The ACNC is additional to, not a substitute for, your incorporating regulator, such as a state consumer affairs agency if your charity is an incorporated association.

We do have some arrangements in place to accept some reporting to state or territory regulators.

We are not an advocacy body for the sector

The ACNC is a government body it does not advocate for charities Sector peak bodies such as ACOSS, the state and territory Councils of Social Services and your service peak bodies (for example, for education groups) do this on your behalf

We are not trying to run your organisation or tell you how to run your organisation

We don’t have the power to manage your organisation, only to require that you meet our requirements under the law Beyond this - how you run your charity is up to you.

The ACNC does not provide legal advice

We can give you information on what you need to do to register and remain registered as a charity, but we cannot give you legal advice on your organisation’s particular circumstances. We may be able to refer you to those who can.

The ACNC is separate to the ATO and other government agencies

The ACNC is necessarily independent of other government agencies and is tailored to the charity sector. The ATO – not the ACNC – decides tax issues, like whether your organisation will be endorsed as a deductible gift recipient (or DGR). However the ATO accepts the ACNC’s determinations of which organisations are charities, and what types of charities they are.

Matthew Petersen, from the ATO’s Non-profit team, will be able to answer ATO-related questions during our webinar and afterwards, via our online Q&A system.

Matt

Despite being called the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, at the moment we only regulate registered charities. As you can see in this slide, there is a large number of not-for-profits in Australia, with only a proportion of those being registered charities, and another small proportion being deductible gift recipients (otherwise known as DGRs).

So what is a not-for-profit?

Generally, a not-for-profit is an organisation that does not operate for the profit, personal gain or other benefit of particular people. It can make a profit, but the profit must be used to achieve its purpose.Not all not-for-profits are charities – charities are a subset of not-for-profits, and have ‘charitable’ purposes for the public benefit. You’ll need to show the ACNC that your organisation meets the legal definition of charity when you apply to register it.

So what is a deductible gift recipient (DGR)?

DGR endorsement is granted by the Australian Taxation Office (the ATO). Donors to DGRs can deduct the amount of their donation from their taxable income when they lodge their tax return. Only a small proportion of charities and not-for-profits have eligible to have deductible gift recipient endorsement.

Now we’ll look at some of the things to consider when you’re deciding whether to apply to register your organisation as a charity.

Sam

There are a few essential things to consider before you decide whether you want to apply to register a charity. Do some background research and ask some questions. If you are considering starting a new charity, you should ask whether setting up a new charity is the best way to achieve your goals, or whether there is another not-for-profit you could support or pool resources with.

Many people decide they want to raise funds for research into specific diseases, after the illness of a loved one, or to raise funds for a disadvantaged or disaster-affected community they have visited.

Setting up a charity is not the only option – you can find an existing charity or NFP to support, for example you could set up a trust that can invest money to provide a continued source of funds to a specific and existing charity or NFP.

You can search the ACNC Register for free to find charities that may already be doing the type of work you want to do – just go to acnc.gov.au/findacharity.

Running a charity can be very time-consuming, and does come with a number of obligations.

If you have an existing not-for-profit, consider whether it might be eligible to register as a charity, and whether this is worth doing.

Many worthwhile organisations operate on a not-for-profit basis – such as local sporting clubs or Lions clubs – but may either not be eligible to be registered or registration may not provide sufficient benefit for them. We’ll talk more about eligibility later.

You may not need to be registered to receive tax concessions. Some not-for-profits can self-assess and get tax concessions or benefits without being registered as a charity with the ACNC, and still achieve their goals.

When you’re thinking about these things, you can also use our checklist to help you decide – go to acnc.gov.au/startcharity.

Matt

If you do want to register your not-for-profit as a charity, you might ask what the benefits are and what it will require.

One of the main benefits is that your organisation will be eligible to apply to the ATO for charity tax concessions, such as income tax exemption or GST concessions.

Depending on its charitable purpose, your organisation may also be able to apply for additional tax benefits as a public benevolent institution (PBI), health promotion charity (HPC) or as a charity advancing religion.

It may be able to apply for endorsement for certain categories of endorsement as deductible gift recipient (DGR) and receive a range of other Commonwealth concessions, benefits or exemptions available to charities.

And finally, you will have a free online presence on the ACNC Register where the public can find out about your charity and see that it is under ACNC regulation.

Sam
Each registered charity has ongoing obligations to the ACNC and must meet these to remain registered.

Firstly, charities must be not-for-profit and pursue their charitable purpose.

Secondly, your charity must notify the ACNC of certain changes and report annually to us. You must notify us:

  • if your charity changes its legal name
  • if your charity changes its address for service - that is, where legal documents can be sent
  • if your charity changes its ‘responsible persons’ - these are the directors, committee members, or trustees, or
  • if your charity changes its governing documents - such as its constitution, rules or trust deed.

In addition to this, all charities (except corporations registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations) must report to us by submitting an Annual Information Statement (and, for medium and large sized charities, a financial report) every year. This statement is due within six months of the end of your reporting period and can be submitted through the ACNC Charity Portal.

Thirdly, your charity must keep financial and operational records.

Fourthly, you must meet the ACNC’s governance standards. All charities (except a very specific group of basic religious charities) must comply with the ACNC’s governance standards. These 5 standards set out a minimum standard of governance, to help promote public trust and confidence in charities.

And finally, as well as meeting the ACNC’s requirements, you must continue to meet any other obligations your charity has under other laws or to other government agencies. For example, if your charity is an incorporated association you will still have to report to your incorporated associations regulator.

Matt

We’re going to look next at what you need to have sorted out before you apply.
You need to know the following about your organisation:

  • Is it eligible to be a charity? Is it not-for-profit and have a charitable purpose for the public benefit?
  • What is its legal structure?
  • Does it have an ABN?
  • Do you have a publishable name for your charity and details of its board or committee members?
  • What tax concessions do you want, and do you know what you’re eligible for?

Matt

First of all, for your organisation to be registered as a charity, it must operate on a not-for-profit basis, both while it is operating and when it ‘winds up’ (or closes down). This means that it cannot operate for the profit, personal gain or other benefit of particular people such as its members, the people who run it or their friends or relative An organisation can still be a not-for-profit if it provides a benefit to a member while genuinely carrying out its purpose.

A not-for-profit can pay a staff member and, sometimes, a board or committee member for their work, but not an unreasonable amount. The payment must not exceed commercial terms and be consistent with the level of work done . A not-for-profit can make profit and have a surplus. These must be used or intended to be used for its charitable purpose. A NFP can keep its profits as long as the reason is in line with its purpose. For example, it may be saving up for a new project or accumulating a reserve so it continues to be sustainable.

Not-for-profits should not hold onto significant profits indefinitely, as this may suggest that it is not working solely towards its charitable purpose.

You can demonstrate that your organisation is not-for-profit by including clauses in your governing documents that state this. The two clauses on the slide are examples of how you can do this, and this information is also on our website at acnc.gov.au/notforprofit.

The not-for-profit clause sets out how the organisation’s assets and income are used and distributed while it is operating.

The dissolution clause sets out what happens to the organisation’s assets if it dissolves or winds up.

Some organisations can also show their not-for-profit character through the operation of certain laws, such as state or territory incorporated associations legislation or trust law (for example, charitable trusts).

Sam

After demonstrating that your organisation is not-for-profit, you need to show that it has a charitable purpose. This is one of the most important elements. If your organisation is registered as a charity, this purpose usually becomes its charity ‘subtype’.

So what is a charitable purpose?

A charitable purpose is the reason a charity has been set up and what its activities work towards achieving. It might also be called its ‘object’ or ‘mission’. Charitable purpose' has a special legal meaning, developed over years by courts and parliament. The courts have recognised many different charitable purposes, and as society changes new charitable purposes are accepted.

Since 1 January 2014, the Charities Act 2013 (Cth) has defined what a charity is for ACNC purposes. It lists 12 charitable purposes, which include advancing religion, advancing education, advancing health and advancing the natural environment.

Some types of purposes that would be considered charitable include:

  • helping people who are experiencing some type of disadvantage ( for example due to ill health, poverty, or age)
  • raising awareness of health issues
  • advancing culture, such as preserving Australian Indigenous heritage through a museum, or promoting the arts, or
  • protecting the safety of the public, such as through a surf life-saving service.

Some purposes may be beneficial for the community but are not charitable at law. For example:

  • sport-related purposes are generally not charitable, but they may become charitable if they have a specific charitable focus, for example, if they are part of a curriculum for a school or are to assist people suffering from a particular disadvantage
  • social or recreational purposes are not charitable.

Some purposes that are specifically NOT able to be charitable include:

  • providing private benefits to people, such as members of an association, profession, or industry
  • engaging in or promoting activities that are unlawful or contrary to public policy
  • promoting or opposing a political party or candidate.

ONLY CHARITABLE PURPOSES

To be registered with the ACNC your organisation must also only have charitable purposes or purposes which are ancillary or incidental to a charitable purpose. Ancillary or incidental purposes are those that further or support the charitable purpose.

For example, an organisation that holds regular film nights for members may have an important social purpose, but this would not be charitable. If, instead, the film night was held to raise funds for the organisation’s charitable purpose, then this may be seen as incidental to a charitable purpose.

What does 'for the benefit of the public' mean?

Finally, your organisation’s charitable purpose must be for the public benefit.

There are many ways it can benefit the public – it can provide goods, services, education, counselling or spiritual guidance, or improve the environment. Some types of purposes (for example, advancing education, relieving poverty, advancing religion) are also presumed to be for the public benefit, unless there is evidence otherwise.

Charities may benefit the public generally, or a particular group of people (for example, a local community, refugees or young people).

Charities do not have to benefit everyone in a community, but any restrictions must be consistent with their charitable purpose. For example:

  • a food bank could restrict its beneficiaries to people who cannot afford their own food, but it could not restrict it to people based on their appearance.
  • a health care support service may limit its activities to a particular geographic location

Your organisation may not be a charity if it is too restrictive in who can receive benefits. For example, an organisation set up to provide scholarships to employees of a particular employer is unlikely to be a charity.

STARTING A NEW CHARITY AND CHOOSING its PURPOSE

If you are setting up a new charity, when you’re deciding which of the charitable purposes in the Charities Act might apply to your charity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the purpose really say what the organisation wants to achieve?
  • Will it be continue to be suitable over time?
  • Will the activities of your organisation work towards this purpose?

This is really important: Only choose charitable purposes that really match what your charity wants to achieve.

Read more at acnc.gov.au/charitablepurpose.

Matt

As well as the 12 charitable purposes or subtypes in the Charities Act, there are two additional subtypes that your charity may be registered with. If your charity qualifies for one of these subtypes, it may be eligible for endorsement by the ATO as DGR (a deductible gift recipient).

  • The first DGR subtype is public benevolent institution (or PBI).
  • The second DGR subtype is health promotion charity (or HPC).

As we mentioned earlier, only a small proportion of registered charities are DGRs, as there are very specific requirements for these DGR subtypes. Few charities will be eligible.

First look carefully at your charitable purposes, and if you need help deciding which DGR category may be appropriate then please contact the ATO or visit its website for more information.

Sam

Before you apply to register, you need to know what your organisation’s legal structure is.

If you are starting a charity from scratch, the legal structure you choose to use is one of the most important decisions you make because, with the right legal structure, your organisation will:

  • be able carry out its activities effectively and in compliance with the law
  • be able to evolve as it grows or changes, and
  • be in a better position to deal with legal issues if they do occur.

Some types of charities, such as certain ancillary funds, must be set up using a particular legal structure. The ATO has particular requirements for this.

If you are choosing or reviewing the legal structure of your organisation, there are a number of factors to consider, such as:

  • the size of your charity, and complexity of its activities
  • whether your charity will want to operate in more than one state or territory, or even overseas
  • whether your charity will have employees or volunteers
  • the type of accountability your charity will have to its members (if any) and the public
  • the potential personal liability of members or office holders for things done by them on behalf of the charity
  • whether your charity will be applying for government grants, and
  • the value and nature of assets held by the charity.

There are many types of legal structure. Examples of common legal structures for charities are:

  • incorporated associations
  • companies limited by guarantee
  • indigenous corporations
  • co-operatives
  • private and public ancillary funds
  • trusts, and
  • unincorporated associations.

You cannot register as a charity if you are an individual or your organisation is a political party or a government entity.

The ACNC cannot give advice on which legal structure you should choose – we can just provide some information on the different options. You may want to get legal advice on your situation, as your organisation’s legal structure has very important consequences for how your charity operates now and in the future.

There is more information on our website, and available from the ATO and other not-for-profit regulators, as set out in the slide.

Matt

Before you can apply to register, you will need an ABN for your organisation.

If you are setting up a new charity, or don’t have an ABN for your NFP, you can apply for an ABN on the Australian Business register website. It can take some time to get your ABN.

When applying for an ABN you need to note three things:

  1. Make sure the name under which you are applying for an ABN is exactly the same as what you have chosen as the charity’s legal name and is in your governing documents.
  2. Check that the ABN ‘entity type’ is right one for the legal structure you have created. If it isn’t you may need to reapply for a new ABN and this could delay your charity application.
  3. Apply for your ABN as soon as possible – we cannot register your charity before the date the ABN commences.

If you have enquiries about the progress of your Australian Business Number (ABN) application we suggest you contact the Australian Business Register, between 8.00am and 6.00pm (AEST), between Monday to Friday, on 13 92 26.

Matt

Once you know or have decided on your charity’s legal structure, you will need to create or have access to your governing documents. These may be (for example) its rules, constitution, articles of association or trust deed.

The governing document is a very important part of the registration application, and you will be asked to provide a copy. It must set out, as a bare minimum:

  • the purpose of the charity
  • that the charity will operate on a not-for-profit basis both during its lifetime and also if and when the charity is wound up.

It may also set out important aspects of the organisation’s operation, like:

  • its membership rules
  • how it will make decisions
  • how meetings will be held
  • how people are appointed to the organisation’s governing body, such as its committee of management or board and the powers they have.

If you believe your organisation may be eligible for DGR endorsement, you will need to include certain clauses in your governing documents.

Find out more at acnc.gov.au/notforprofit You can also find more information and an example on the ATO website.

Sam

On our website, there is information about template governing documents for different types of legal structures.

If you are starting a new charity, or want to upgrade your not-for-profit’s governing document, you can use a template. The template you select will depend upon the type of structure your organisation has or will have. For example, for people wishing to register a company limited by guarantee, we have a template constitution available on our website.

Similarly, all of the state regulators of incorporated associations and ORIC have a standard set of rules (often called model rules) for those types of not-for-profits.

When using the templates you will need to:

  • choose one that is suitable for the legal structure you wish to use for your charity
  • adapt the template to suit your charity’s needs, and
  • make sure you meet the requirements of BOTH the ACNC and any other regulator (if you choose to incorporate)

If you want to create your own governing document, it must contain all the clauses necessary for us to register your organisation as a charity, and also be suitable to support the governance of your organisation in the future. If you are unsure about how to get a suitable governing document, you may want to get professional advice.

Matt
Another thing you need to consider is your charity’s name, and using it as part of your registration.

If you already have a NFP set up, its legal name is generally the same name that you have registered with any other regulator such as ASIC, Fair Trading/Consumer Affairs or ORIC. It should be the name that is on the front of your governing documents.

If you are starting a new charity, while you can generally choose your organisation’s name there are some important things to know when you are doing it:

  • Some regulators require the name to include the type of legal structure. For example you will often see company names ending in ’Limited’ or incorporated association names ending in ’Incorporated’
  • Many regulators, including the ACNC, are unlikely to accept or publish the names of organisations with the same, or a very similar name to that of another already registered organisation. This is because of the potential confusion this can cause.

When choosing a new name, you should:

  • consider choosing something distinctive, so that someone can find your charity when searching the Register. Don’t call it ‘The Museum Trust’, for example, which might return hundreds of charities with these common words in their name
  • avoid using words or acronyms that could cause offence in English or another language
  • check that you have permission to use the name, for example if it’s somebody’s name or subject to intellectual property rights (such as a trademark), and
  • avoid misleading names, for example suggesting the charity does something or works in a particular location when in fact it doesn’t.

Sam

To register a charity, you will need to tell us the details of what the ACNC calls your ‘responsible persons’. This includes their names, dates of birth and addresses.

The responsible persons are those people who have ultimate responsibility for controlling the direction and governance of a charity, so it is important to have chosen appropriate people for this role and that they understand what the role involves. In rare situations they may be suspended or removed from their roles by the ACNC.

Those responsibilities include directing the affairs of the charity, ensuring that it is able to meet its liabilities and is well run, and ensuring that the charity pursues its charitable purpose for the benefit of the members of the public it was set up for.

The charity has obligations under the ACNC governance standards to make sure these people are suitable and understand these duties.

Sam

So how do you know who your organisation’s responsible persons are? This can be clearer for some charities than others. Some common examples are in this table.

For example, for incorporated associations, the responsible persons are the members of the committee of management.

[run through table in full]

Matt

We mentioned that a charity must ensure that it complies with the ACNC governance standards, and that responsible persons must be suitable and understand their duties under these standards. These standards are very important.

The governance standards are a set of core, minimum standards that deal with how charities are run (including their processes, activities and relationships).

Charities must meet these governance standards to be registered and remain registered with the ACNC. The governance standards do not apply to a limited class of charities called basic religious charities.

Charities do not need to submit anything to the ACNC to show they meet the standards, but must have evidence of meeting the standards that they can provide if requested.

The standards require charities to remain charitable, be accountable to members, follow Australian laws and ensure that their board members or directors are not only suitable, but understand and comply with the particular duties that apply to them as members of a charity board or committee.

The standards are listed in the slide above, and there is plenty more detail at acnc.gov.au/governancestandards.

Sam

There is one topic that we have not discussed yet – withholding information from the public ACNC Register.

If your charity is registered, some of the information you supplied as part of the application will appear on the ACNC Register. This includes information such the name of the charity, its ABN, governing documents and the names of responsible persons. Check you know which information will be published and which won’t before you apply to have information withheld.

You can apply to have some information withheld, but there are only particular situations when we will grant your request. For example, the information could endanger public safety.

It is not enough for the information just to be private or sensitive. Even if a charity meets one or more of the five situations set out in the ACNC Act the ACNC may refuse to withhold or remove information where it considers that the public interest in displaying the information outweighs the likely adverse effect that publication may cause.

One of our most common requests is to withhold dates of birth and /or addresses of responsible persons. The ACNC never publishes the contact details or date of birth of any responsible person of a charity on the ACNC Register so this request is not needed.

Sam

One final thing you need to consider before starting your registration application is what charity and other tax concessions may be available for your charity.

Your charity must be registered with the ACNC before it can receive charity tax concessions from the Australian Taxation office (ATO).

The main types of charity tax concessions are:

  • income tax exemptions
  • refunds on franking credits on dividends
  • goods and services tax (GST) concessions, and
  • fringe benefits tax rebates

Some charities may also be eligible to apply for endorsement as a DGR. Donors to DGRs can deduct the amount of their donation from their taxable income when they lodge their tax return.

So how do you apply for charity tax benefits?

You can do this using the same registration form. After the ACNC has decided your charity status, we will pass on your application for tax benefits to the ATO.

The ATO accepts our decision on charity status and decides which tax concessions your charity is entitled to, depending on your registered charity subtype.

The ATO may also have additional requirements (or special conditions) that you must meet before you receive particular tax concessions.

The ATO provides guidance on www.ato.gov.au under ‘Getting started’, on what you need to start a not-for-profit and the types of concessions available to them.

Matt

There are also tax and duties concessions available to charities from state, territory and local governments. Your organisation does not need to be registered with the ACNC to receive state, territory or local government tax concessions.

Concessions may be available on taxes like stamp duty (a tax on some financial and property transactions), payroll tax (a tax on wages that exceed a certain threshold paid by employers) and land tax (a tax on land owners). Each state and territory has different requirements for accessing these concessions.Local governments may also give concessions to charities (for example, on rates).

To find out more about how to access concessions available to your charity, contact your local government or your state or territory revenue office. www.acnc.gov.au/regulatorlist

Matt

OK, so you’ve decided your organisation may be eligible to register as a charity, you have an ABN and you’ve weighed up the benefits and obligations.

Now: how do you go about applying to register your organisation as a charity? Use our online application form – go to acnc.gov.au/register

There is no fee for applying or for registration if you are successful. As you work through the application form, you can refer to the registration guide, which is available online. The form itself is not difficult to use, if you have all the information you need ready.

The ACNC will work with you to see if your organisation can, where possible, be registered. So please feel free to ask questions and seek clarification if you have any concerns during your application. You can call or email our Advice Services team for help.

Sam

And what happens after you have made an application? Each application will be assigned to a specific Registration Analyst to consider in detail. They will contact you to introduce themselves and they will also contact you to ask you for further information, if needed. Either of these occasions are the ideal times to ask for further information or clarify any concerns you may have. Feel free to ask questions and seek clarification if you have any concerns during the process.

If you have forgotten to include, say, a winding up clause in your charity’s governing documents, your analyst will give you the opportunity to correct the omission before finalising your application.

We generally process applications within 28 days of receiving all the required information.

We will write to tell you if your application has been successful and send you a charity pack. In the charity pack you will receive:

  • a registration letter, signed by the Commissioner
  • a registration certificate
  • a password to log in to the ACNC Charity Portal, and
  • information about being a registered charity, including its ongoing obligations.

If your application is not successful, we will write to tell you why. You can ask for our decision to be reviewed.

Matt

Of course we do get applications from organisations that we can’t register.

Some of the common issues that we see are:

  • Lack of a suitable set of rules -This means we can’t identify the organisation’s objects or whether it is not-for-profit. Sometimes these organisations just need a bit more time and assistance to get their documents in order. We often find that such organisations reapply at a later date. This is fine – no black marks are given if you aren’t successful the first time around.
  • The organisation does not have a charitable purpose or has both charitable AND non-charitable purposes -We have spoken today about what being charitable means for ACNC purposes. We sometimes get sporting or social clubs applying and unfortunately, while these clubs may have very worthwhile purposes, they are not charitable.
  • Private benefit to members - Some organisations may have a charitable purpose but they also provide a private benefit to their members. For example, an organisation that is set up to promote the arts (which is charitable) but does this by promoting works for sale of particular artists who are members of the organisation would not be eligible to be a charity.

The slide sets out some of the common issues the ATO sees, such as missing or conflicting information, missing clauses or a mismatch between DGR item numbers and charity purposes.

Sam

So there’s an overview of the key things to keep in mind, whether you are starting a new charity or considering registering your existing NFP as a charity. We hope that has been useful for everyone who joined us today.

For more information, please visit acnc.gov.au – we have plenty of information on starting a charity, registering a charity and charity tax concessions.

Visit www.ato.gov.au/non-profit for more information on taxation concessions and ATO endorsement. We also recommend the ‘Getting started’ content at Not-for-profit Law’s information hub.

Matt

You can stay in touch with the ACNC in a number of ways, particularly by subscribing to our updates via the homepage.
Find out more information about the ACNC’s program of webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Call us on 13 ACNC – which is 13 22 62. Our phone lines are open between 9.00 am and 6.00 pm Australian Eastern Summer Time – and they are staffed by helpful people like April who understand the charity sector and can provide advice on how charities can meet their obligations to the ACNC.

Our staff are trained to give general advice on a range of topics related to the regulation of charities. You can also email them at advice@acnc.gov.au – this is a particularly good idea if your issue is complex or if you think it will need detailed consideration.

And, of course, we’re active on social media – so you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can also get more information from the ATO, on starting a not-for-profit and on tax concessions and benefits.

Sam

We’ll finish the formal part of the presentation there.

Thank you for joining us today and for your questions. We will remain online to answer questions for another ten minutes or so, but and can share answers to questions that may have broad interest. If you have questions that are specific to your particular charity, or are particularly complex we recommend you contact our Advice Services team, or – if it relates to DGR endorsement or other tax issues – the ATO’s Non-profit team.

Remember that the ACNC runs webinars for charities at least monthly on a broad range of topics. Our next webinar is on Wednesday 9 March and is aimed at new charity board members – it’s called ‘Welcome to the board’. Sign up for this or any other webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

If you’re interested in being kept up to date on webinars, please let us know in the survey at the end of this webinar. We’d also appreciate any feedback you have, so that we can make any improvements to future webinars. You can also get in touch with the ACNC Education team directly at education@acnc.gov.au.

Thanks Matt for speaking with me today, and to Matthew Petersen from the ATO, as well as our own Li and Nicola for answering questions, and Manori for her help.

And thanks to everyone for attending. Goodbye and see you next time.