Commissioner’s Column – 22 March 2017

Susan Pascoe, Our Commissioner

It has been a big fortnight at the ACNC, with the release of two landmark documents; the Charity Compliance 2015 and 2016 report, and our new guide Managing people’s information and data.

I hope readers find both useful in their management or support of registered charities.

Charity Compliance 2015 and 2016 report

Last week, we launched the Charity Compliance 2015 and 2016 report, which discusses the ACNC’s compliance work over the last two years.

The vast majority of registered charities are run by dedicated and honest people; unfortunately it only takes bad behaviour from a small number of individuals to damage trust and confidence in the sector.

Our role is to investigate concerns and take strong action where required. It is worth noting that in most cases, we are able to resolve any issues we find by providing regulatory advice and guidance. This also gives you an idea of the kind of people we are dealing with – most are trying to run effective and efficient charities and are therefore very receptive when we contact them.

The new report focussed on the last two years of ACNC compliance activity. Many of the figures we reported on have increased compared to the previous edition of the report. For example, in 2015/16 we received 1,872 concerns, up significantly from the 1,307 concerns we received in 2013/14. We don’t feel that this is necessarily indicative of more mischief in the sector, instead it is more likely due to the increased awareness of the ACNC as the national regulator.

The new report also sets out our focus for the next 12 months:

  • fraud and financial mismanagement
  • support of terrorism
  • harm to beneficiaries
  • political activities, and
  • lodgement and accuracy of Annual Information Statements.

To read the full report visit acnc.gov.au/compliancereport.

New guidance for charities on managing information and data

With an increasing awareness of the importance of privacy and information security, charities are facing scrutiny of their collection and protection of information and data.

The community expects charities to responsibly and ethically manage information and data about donors, supporters, staff and volunteers, and beneficiaries.

The ACNC has published new guidance to support charities. The guide, Managing people’s information and data, provides charities with a broad overview of their responsibilities and the laws that may apply, as well as practical tips for charity board members.

The guide is now available at acnc.gov.au/informationanddata.

Reminder for double defaulter charities

In my last Commissioner’s Column, I warned 1,300 charities that their charity status was in jeopardy as they had failed to report for two years.

The deadline for submitting outstanding Annual Information Statements is now less than a week away.

If your charity is on the list, available for download at acnc.gov.au/doubledefaulters, I urge you to submit your outstanding reports before 27 March 2017 to avoid revocation of charity status.

Parents and Citizen’s Associations (P & Cs) and the ACNC

For many Parents and Citizen’s Associations (sometimes called Parents and Friends Committees) , the committee of management changes on an annual basis. This can make it difficult for the P&C to maintain its registration with the ACNC.

If you are involved in a P&C, I encourage you to take a moment to watch our recent webinar. The purpose of the webinar is to explain the obligations of registered charities, and help P&Cs when they transition to new committee members.

Like all charities registered with the ACNC, P&Cs are obligated to meet ACNC requirements. This includes updating the responsible persons listed on the Charity Register, notifying of changes in contact details, and submitting the Annual Information Statement each year.

The transcript and video of the webinar will be available in the coming days at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

If you have any questions about the specific circumstances of your P&C, please contact our friendly Advice team on 13 22 62 (13 ACNC).

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM

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