Charity case study: Registering a charity

Happy Helpers (SA)

The Happy Helpers (the Helpers) is a small organisation set up in 2010 to run a homework club in Parkton in Adelaide, South Australia.

How it began and why

The organisation was originally set up by a group of four volunteers who felt that more out-of-school educational support was needed for young people aged 12–18, especially those at risk of disengagement.

The four volunteers called themselves ‘the committee’. They are:

  • Kara Moon     (a retired police officer)
  • Daniel Moon   (a small business owner)
  • Burak Atalay   (a plumber), and
  • Jill Chan        (a teacher).

How it has developed

The Helpers began by operating a homework club at a local school in Parkton. Members of the committee worked in pairs to run a session three times a week. Parents at the school were grateful for their work and some volunteered to fill extra shifts with the club. This provided the committee with an opportunity to work on developing resources and coordinating a roster of volunteers. The Helpers also organised raffles, barbeques and ‘lucky dips’ to raise funds to buy learning materials for homework club participants.

'When my daughter moved out of home I found boxes of old books from when she was at kindergarten. It seemed silly to throw them away, so I donated them to the Helpers to use at the homework clubs.' Kara Moon

Current situation and need

In 2013, the Helpers applied for and received an annual grant of $30 000 from the local council (lasting five years), which allowed them to expand their operation and start running homework clubs in several locations throughout Adelaide. At this time, the Helpers also made a decision to incorporate as an incorporated association through Consumer and Business Services (part of the South Australian Government).

Following the formation meeting of the newly-incorporated group, the first committee of management was elected from the original four volunteers with two others who had joined since its establishment:

  • Deborah Katz    (a school principal), and                               
  • Warwick McKay (a bookkeeper).                                              

The Helpers’ committee met after their formation meeting and elected Kara Moon as the president, Burak Atalay as the secretary and Warwick McKay as the treasurer.

Warwick, who had been looking over the Helpers’ financial information, estimated that in the 2013/14 financial year, their taxable income would be $35 000 – meaning that they would have to pay income tax.

He reported this to a committee meeting. Deborah Katz suggested to the committee that the Helpers explore applying for tax exemptions as a charity. She thought that the Helpers would be entitled to register as a charity with the ACNC, which would mean that they would be exempt from paying income tax for the 2014/15 financial year.

'I always thought that to be a charity you had to be working with homeless people or raising money to send to developing countries overseas. I didn’t realise that the good work that the Helpers were doing would entitle us to be a charity.' Burak Atalay

Outcome

In February of 2014, the Helpers work out what they need to do and apply for registration with the ACNC. About a month later they receive a letter confirming that they have been registered as a charity and a charity pack.

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