Before registering your charity, there are a number of documents and legal structures you need to have in place. It’s an exciting time as you approach your charity’s launch. You should submit the form to register as a charity through the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) website and can do so electronically. As there are many stages and steps involved in the application, we set out below six things you should know to ensure you can set up your registered charity.

1. ABN and Charity Name

Firstly, you will need to collate all the necessary details relating to your charity including your charity’s ABN and name. Your charity name will usually be the name that you have registered as a company, either one limited by guarantee or an unincorporated association.

2. Legal Structure

You should also be clear at this stage as to the legal structure you have chosen for your charity. This could be an incorporated entity, trust, Australian public company, Australian private company, unincorporated entity or a co-operative entity.

3. Contact Details

You should have in place an address at which the ACNC documents will be served and note the contact person for your form. If a lawyer is helping you to register your charity, they will often be the contact person. The contact person should be the best person able to respond to any queries relating to the form and its content.

4. Charitable Purpose

The form will also ask you to address the purpose of your charity. The purpose(s) of your charity should be agreed upon during the early stages of setting it up, as it will also effect the categories under which you will apply to be a deductible gift recipient (DGR).

5. Responsible Person

You are also required to include the details of the ‘responsible person’ in relation to your charity. This is an important role as there are a number of duties that attaches to the ‘responsible person’. You should be aware that the name and position of each ‘responsible person’ will be publicly published. As such, the person signing up to this role should be comfortable with having their contact details accessible to the public.

6. Governing Documents and DGR status

As part of the process at this stage of registration, you will be required to provide the governing documents of the charity. The governing document will be different depending on whether you are set up as a company with a constitution, a set of rules governing the charity or a trust deed, if the not for profit has been established as a trust. This form also includes an application to apply for DGR status and registration for other tax concessions.


If you have started the processes of registering as a charity and are unsure of your next steps, you can read the checklist before you start your charity on the ACNC website.

Edith Moss
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