Firstly, let’s start with – what is the ACNC? The ACNC stands for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. It is an independent regulator of charities in Australia.
So, why should you register and what do you need to know about registering?
What are the benefits of registering with ACNC?
When you register your charity with the ACNC, you can apply for:
- charity tax concessions – charities need to register with ACNC before they can receive charity tax concessions from the ATO;
- additional tax benefits if you are a public benevolent institution (PBI), health promotion charity (HPC)or charity for the advancement of religion; and
- certain categories of deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.
The ACNC maintains a searchable public register of the registered charities, which means that your charity will have an online presence where the public can find out more information about your charity. You will also be able to put on your documents, such as letterheads, emails and website, the following wording: [your organisation name] is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission ABN [#], demonstrating your registration with the ACNC.
Can any charity apply for registration?
To be able to apply for registration with the ACNC, your organisation must:
- operate on a not-for-profit basis;
- have a charitable purpose which is for the public benefit;
- have an ABN;
- meet the governance standards; and
- not be an organisation which cannot be registered such as a political party or government entity.
If you are unsure as to whether your organisation has a charitable purpose, have a look at section 12 of the Charities Act. It currently sets out 12 charitable purposes which include:
- advancing health;
- advancing education;
- advancing social or public welfare;
- advancing religion;
- advancing culture;
- promoting reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance between groups of individuals that are in Australia;
- promoting or protecting human rights;
- advancing the security or safety of Australia or the Australian public;
- preventing or relieving the suffering of animals;
- advancing the natural environment;
- promoting or opposing a change to any matter established by law, policy or practice in the Commonwealth, a state, a territory or another country, (where that change furthers or opposes one or more of the purposes above); and
- other similar purposes beneficial to the general public.
Are there any obligations after I register?
If you do choose to register your charity with the ACNC, once it is registered, remember that you charity is required to:
- remain not-for-profit and pursue a charitable purpose;
- notify ACNC of changes in the charity;
- keep financial and operational records;
- submit an Annual Information Statement, which is due within 6 months at the end of the reporting period;
- regularly check the ACNC website for updates and ensure that you continue to comply with governance standards; and
- comply with applicable laws and regulations.