Wind up, merge or change legal structure

You may change your charity by:

  • winding it up (closing it)
  • merging it with another charity, or
  • continuing with a different legal structure.

Wind up your charity

You may choose to wind up your charity for many reasons. This is called voluntarily winding up. You may also be forced to wind up your charity if it is insolvent (unable to pay all of its debts when they are due) or does not comply with certain important legal requirements. This is called compulsory winding up.

When winding up your charity, the main things you need to know are that:

  • you may need to get professional advice about winding up your charity
  • you must follow your governing documents and all legal obligations (including those of your incorporating regulator) that are relevant to winding up your charity
  • you must tell people that your charity is winding up, including people you have contracts with, members, donors, any employees
  • your charity must remain solvent (able to pay all of its debts when they are due) while you are winding up
  • you must cancel your registration with the ACNC if you wind up your charity, and
  • if you have wound up your registered charity, it will remain on the ACNC Register but will be identified as no longer registered.

See our guidance on how to wind up your charity.

Merge your charity

You may wish to merge your charity with another registered charity that has similar purposes, beneficiaries (people it helps) and activities. You may choose to do this for a number of reasons, such as to share resources or to broaden your charity’s reach.

When merging your charity, the main things you need to know are that:

  • you may need to get professional advice about merging your charity
  • you must follow your governing documents and all legal obligations (including those of your incorporating regulator) that are relevant to merging your charity
  • you must tell people if your charity is merging, including people you have contracts with, members, donors, any employees
  • merging may affect your charity registration and any tax concessions you have, and
  • you may have legal obligations to your incorporating regulator, the Australian Business Register (ABR), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the ACNC.

See our guidance on how to merge your charity.

Change your charity’s legal structure

You may wish to continue your charity but change its legal structure (for example, incorporate your unincorporated charity, so that you can open a bank account, provide better legal liability protection for your members and enter into agreements in the charity’s name instead of an individual’s name).

If you change your charity’s legal structure, you may need to:

You may also need to do other things, such as notify the relevant incorporating regulator(s) or register or cancel an Australian Business Number (ABN) with the Australian Business Register.

See our guidance on changing your charity’s legal structure.