Change my charity's legal structure

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance may be useful if you want to:

  • change your charity’s legal structure (for example, change it from an unincorporated association into an incorporated association), or
  • merge your charity with one or more other charities.

Why change my charity’s legal structure?

There are various reasons why you may wish to change your charity’s legal structure. It may be because you wish to:

  • merge your charity with another charity (for example, because you have a similar purpose and want to share resources)
  • incorporate your unincorporated charity (for example, 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)
  • incorporate as a company with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (for example, because your charity has become larger and wants to operate across Australia and overseas), or
  • register your charity with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, so that you can apply for certain government grants for indigenous charities. For more information, see the federal government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy (as at July 2014).

Attention - Important information! Changing your charity’s legal structure may be complex and you must meet various legal requirements of the ACNC and possibly other regulators. You may need to get legal advice before deciding what to do.

ACNC requirements when changing your legal structure

When you change your charity’s legal structure, the ACNC and other regulators will need you to notify them.

You will need to do some of the following things with the ACNC:

The ACNC may review the changes you make to your charity’s details when you change your legal structure. This is to ensure that your charity’s governing documents continue to show that your charity is operating on a not for profit basis, has charitable purposes and is eligible for the subtype(s) of charity for which it has applied.

Attention - Important information!There may be other things you need to do when you change your legal structure, for example, notifying an incorporating regulator or the Australian Business Register (ABR). You need to notify the ABR about changes to your legal structure (for example, if changing from an incorporated association to a company limited by guarantee) even if your ABN does not change.

Contact the ACNC

Phone: 13 ACNC (13 22 62)
Mail: Advice Services, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, GPO Box 5108, Melbourne VIC 3001
Fax: 1300 232 569

Attention - Important information!This page contains links to external websites. Any external links used by the ACNC are inserted for convenience and do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any material at those sites. Information and resources provided by the ACNC is for general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice regarding your charity's particular circumstances.