The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) has been travelling around Australia delivering their ‘Ask ACNC’ workshops. The seminars provide an overview of governance standards, charity obligations as well as a guide to financial literacy and are well worth attending.

Here are some great take-aways from the ASK ACNC Session in Townsville.


The message from the Top

At the Townsville session, David Locke, Assistant Commissioner Charity Services, highlighted the importance of the sector to the economy (generating over 4% of GDP). He explained the success that the ACNC had achieved in reducing red-tape and stressed the importance of maintaining compliance. He included some illuminating statistics which clearly indicated the high concentration of income within the top tier of organisations and dependence by smaller charities on donation income:

  • The largest 5% of charities receive 80% of the sector’s income
  • 10% of charities control 90% of the sectors assets
  • 31.5% have less than $50 000 in income


Parity across the Sector

The breakdown of the actual number of charities saw that 64% of the sector was actually composed of small charities with 17% medium and 19% falling into the the large range. Of these, approximately 40% operated under DGR (Deductible Gift Recipient) status. In comparison only 30% of small charities receiving the status while 66% of large charities claimed DGR.

As the name of the day was “Ask ACNC”, this topic certainly raised some questions. Response from the floor was immediate with many raising their concerns at what they saw as possible inequalities within the system. With DGR status moving towards being dependent on a number of factors including possible ACNC registration, many felt that more could be done to facilitate access to the scheme.

Conversations were lively with a balance of views being put forward. It was agreed that each situation had to be taken on it’s merits and that there was still work to be done as the ACNC strives to maintain its directive to reduce compliance and unify the sector.


Crossing the ‘T’s and Dotting the ‘I’s

The second session focused on the need to ensure accuracy in presenting the Annual Information Statement. Clarifying the differences in reporting between the three tiers of charities, Mel Yates, Director of Reporting and Red Tape Reduction, concentrated on the issue of financial literacy.

Mel discussed the need for strategies to minimise the negative impact on organisation’s reporting compliance that may arise with the introduction of the NDIS . He referenced the 5 Standards of Good Governance and spoke of the ACNC’s plan to introduce an endorsement based “Charity Tick” to provide approval for those charities who successfully fulfill their obligations.


Keeping Things on Track

The past few years have seen much upheaval in the sector, however, the ACNC are continuing to work towards reducing red tape and unify structure and compliance. There is an urgent need to collect sector data to build a usable resource with which to lobby for change.