ACNC glossary

This glossary helps explain some of the most important words, terms and concepts we use.

At first, when we refer to something we use its full title (for example, our Act, the name of the commission or other agencies), and then put a shorter version in brackets afterwards. We will then use the shorter or more general version (such as ‘the Act’), where this is clear.

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Australian Accounting Standards
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Australian Accounting Standards Board
Australian Business Register
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission
ACNC Act (the Act)
the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 (Cth). These two pieces of legislation create the ACNC and give it responsibilities and powers.
ACNC officer
the Commissioner and any staff assisting the Commissioner, including delegates and authorised officers lawfully exercising the powers of the Commissioner
ACNC regulations
the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Regulation 2013 (Cth) (the ACNC regulations) which expands on the law governing the ACNC and its functions
ACNC staff
the employees and officers provided to the Commissioner under the ACNC Act, including contractors where they are required by contract to comply with ACNC policies and procedures
address for service
the email or physical address that the ACNC sends all correspondence (including legal documents)
Person authorised by the charity to sign the relevant form being submitted to the ACNC (such as a lawyer or an accountant). The charity needs to provide the information that goes into the form to the agent and declare that the information is correct. See our information on who can sign ACNC forms.  
ancillary funds
special funds that provide a link between people who want to give (‘donors’) and organisations that can receive tax deductible donations (‘deductible gift recipients’ – DGRs). Ancillary funds are set up for the purpose of providing money, property or benefits to DGRs. There are two types of ancillary funds that are DGR categories – private ancillary funds and public ancillary funds
Annual Information Statement, AIS
the annual statement that registered charities must submit to the ACNC which contains information about a charity’s operations for the reporting period
another registered charity (lodging entity)
a charity that can sign and lodge a form on behalf of another charity. They must be able to legally change the governing rules of the other charity in relation to the subject matter of the form it is lodging
annual financial report, AFR
a report which includes a charity’s financial statements, the notes to the financial statements and a declaration by a charity’s responsible people. This must meet the requirements under the ACNC regulations and any accounting standards that apply
approved form
a form or other document required to have written approval from the Commissioner, which has a formal declaration to sign. An approved form can include more than one type of document in it. The form may have to be provided to the ACNC in a certain way, for example electronically
Australian Public Service
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
Australian Tax Office
an independent person who reviews an organisation's financial report. The ACNC Act sets out who can audit reports that must be provided to the ACNC
authorised person
person who holds a position in the charity that gives them authority to sign
basic religious charity
is a particular type of religious charity that does not have to follow some of the requirements in the ACNC Act. A basic religious charity is a registered charity that meets all of the following requirements:
(i) it is registered as a subtype of charity for the advancement of religion

(ii) it could not be registered as any other subtype of charity (for example, could not also be registered for subtype of advancing education)

(iii) it is not a body corporate registered under the Corporations Act 2001, an Indigenous corporation (under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006), a corporation registered under the Companies Act 1985 of Norfolk Island, or an incorporated association in any state or territory

(iv) it is not endorsed as a DGR itself (however it can be endorsed to operate DGR funds, institutions or authorities as long as their total revenue is less than $250 000 for the particular financial year)

(v) the Commissioner has not allowed it to report as part of a group, and

(vi) it has not received more than $100 000 in government grants in the current financial year or either of the previous two financial years
those who benefit from the work of a charity, such as a client or a member of the public
board, committee of management
the governing body of an organisation, which makes decisions about how it is run and is responsible for it
bulk lodgement
a process of submitting multiple forms or other documents at one time, for example, for corporate trustees administering more than one trust. See also ‘group reporting’
charitable purpose
the purpose or purposes that a charity exists for. Under the Charities Act 2013 (Cth), from 1 Jan 2014 there are 12 charitable purposes including advancing:  health, education, religion, social or public welfare, culture, the natural environment or public debate; promoting reconciliation; promoting or protecting human rights; and other purposes beneficial to the community
a type of not-for-profit organisation that has charitable purposes that are for the public benefit and does not have disqualifying purposes and is not a political party or a government entity. The ACNC registers charities that have an ABN and fit the other requirements under the ACNC Act. Read our factsheet 'Who can register with the ACNC?'
charity subtype
registered charities are registered as a particular ‘subtype’ of charity, which reflects its purpose or purposes (for example, as a charity advancing education). Charities can be registered with more than one subtype.

The ACNC Act sets out 14 categories or 'subtypes' of charity. These include the 12 charitable purposes as set out in the Charities Act 2013 (Cth), as well as public benevolent institutions and health promotion charities. Some subtypes may be eligible for particular tax concessions or benefits. See also ‘basic religious charity’
charity tax benefits
the Commonwealth tax concessions and benefits available to registered charities, including income tax exemption, GST charity concessions, FBT rebate and FBT exemption. These concessions are administered by the ATO
Company Limited by Guarantee
Council of Australian Governments
the Commissioner of the ACNC, including any Acting Commissioner
a legal structure set up under Commonwealth law with certain requirements for incorporation.

Under the ACNC Act, a company is defined more broadly as a body corporate or any unincorporated association or body of persons, but not a partnership
deductible gift recipient, DGR
a type of organisation that has been recognised by the ATO as able to receive tax deductible gifts. Donors to these organisations can deduct the amount of their gift from their taxable income when they lodge a tax return
director (of a company)
a person who performs the duties of a director of an incorporated company or the duties of a member of the management committee of an unincorporated company, whatever the name or title of their role is
Division, Part, Schedule, section
referring to the relevant parts of ACNC Act
this is the word used in the ACNC Act to describe any kind of 'legal person'. It includes an individual, a body corporate or politic, an unincorporated association or other body of people, and a trust. It includes a person involved in a charity’s governing body (a ‘responsible entity’), a registered charity (a ‘registered entity’) and an ACNC officer
federally regulated entity, FRE
This is a particular type of registered charity. Generally there are two broad ways charities will be federally regulated entities:

i) a charity is a ‘constitutional corporation’ or it is a trust whose trustees are all constitutional corporations. A constitutional corporation is: a foreign corporation, a ‘trading or financial corporation’ formed in Australia that carries out substantial ‘trading’ or ‘financial’ activities, or a body corporate that is incorporated in a Territory

ii) if the charity is connected with a Territory (the ACT, the Northern Territory, Jervis Bay or an external Territory such as Norfolk Island and Christmas Island) because: it is a body corporate that is taken to be registered in a Territory under s 119A of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth); its main activities are carried out in or in a way connected with a territory; or it is a trust governed by the law of a territory

The ACNC can use all of its regulatory powers against federally regulated entities.
financial report
a report which includes a charity’s financial statements, the notes to the financial statements and a declaration by a charity’s responsible persons. This must meet the requirements under the ACNC regulations and any applicable accounting standards
fringe benefits tax, FBT
a tax paid on benefits that an employer provides to their employees in addition to their salary, such as the use of a work car or phone. Charities can apply for FBT rebates and FBT exemptions, it depends on what kind of charity they are
goods and services tax, GST
a tax applied to the sale price of goods and services. Several GST concessions are available to charities
the way in which an organisation is run. It includes who makes decisions, and how they are made
governance standards
a set of minimum governance requirements that charities must meet. These are set out in the ACNC regulations
governing document, rules
formal documents that include a charity’s purpose, activities and processes. Examples include trust deeds, articles of association, rules, rule books, charters and constitutions
group reporting
when charities have permission from the ACNC as part of a group in one of two ways:
1. joint reporting – when your charity as part of a group of registered charities submits one annual information statement and one financial report (if applicable)
2. collective reporting – when your charity as part of a group of registered charities submit one or more annual information statements or financial reports (if applicable) on another basis (for example, according to types of activities)
health promotion charity, HPC
a category ('subtype') of charity that promotes the prevention or control of diseases in human beings. For example, giving the public information about a disease, researching diseases to develop cures or treatments, or providing equipment to people suffering from a particular disease.
income tax exemption
does not have to pay tax on any taxable income received
incorporated association
a legal structure set up under a state or territory law, that is usually not-for-profit. Generally these must have at minimum number of members, be managed by a committee of management that meets at least annually at an annual general meeting, have a set of rules and operate in the state or territory it is incorporated in
Indigenous corporation
a company incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) and regulated by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. Indigenous corporations can be for profit or not-for-profit
internal review decision
decisions listed under the ACNC Act that must be reviewed internally by the ACNC before any other review action can be taken
income tax exempt fund (ITEF)
a type of non-charitable fund that was previously endorsed by the ATO as an ITEF. These funds were established under a will or instrument of trust solely for either:

i) the purpose of providing money, property or benefits to income tax exempt deductible gift recipients (DGRs) or
ii) the establishment of DGRs.

From 1 January 2014, the ITEF category was abolished in the tax legislation and existing ITEFs were deemed to be registered charities.

See also ATO guidance on ITEFs
large (registered) charity
a registered charity with annual revenue of $1 million or more
(legal) name
this is your charity’s formal name as it appears on your legal or other official documents.  For some charities, this is the name your charity was incorporated as with your incorporating regulator.  For trusts, this is the name shown on your trust deed. For unincorporated charities, this is the name shown in any formal documents (such as in your governing documents, or bylaws). This is consistent with the name required when you apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN)
laws made by parliament, also called 'Acts of Parliament' or 'statute law'. Legislation is made by Commonwealth, state and territory parliaments.
lodging entity
a registered charity who acts as an agent of a charity to lodge documents (such as an AIS) on its behalf. It can only be a lodging entity if:

i) it can amend the governing rules of the registered charity in relation to a topic that the form covers, and
ii) the return, notice, statement or application or other document provided to the ACNC is related to that topic.
medium (registered) charity
a registered charity with annual revenue of $250 000 or more, and less than $1 million
National Compact
an agreement between the government and not-for-profit sector setting out how they will work together to achieve common goals
(national) standard chart of accounts, NSCOA
an agreed list of account categories and their explanations that Commonwealth, state and territory governments use when requesting financial information from not-for-profits. The ACNC will use these definitions to support the meaning of financial items in the annual information statement
not-for-profit, NFP
an organisation that has rules that do not allow it to distribute profits or assets to its members, the people who run it or their friends or relatives while it is operating or on winding up. An organisation is a not-for-profit if it does not carry out activities for private benefit of its members or distribute profits or assets to its members. NFP is not defined in the ACNC Act. The 'Who can register with the ACNC?' factsheet has more details.
Formal request for a reconsideration or review of a decision under the ACNC Act, must be done using an approved form
objection decision
a decision made by the ACNC after a Notice of objection form was submitted, and the ACNC internally reviewed that decision
the word we use to describe all kinds of bodies that may do not-for-profit work, that have not yet been or cannot be registered with the ACNC. Also see 'entity' – it includes both institutions and funds
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations
Proprietary Limited - this is a type of company
Private and public ancillary funds (PUaFs and PAFs)
see ‘ancillary funds’, above
public benevolent institution, PBI
a category ('subtype') of charity that works to relieve poverty, sickness, suffering, distress, misfortune, disability or helplessness. For example, some hospitals and hospices, disability support services, aged care services and low rental or subsidised housing for people in need.
the reason an organisation exists and what its activities work to achieve, its objects
registered charity, register
a charity that has been registered by the ACNC under the ACNC Act, also called ‘registered entity’; the process of registering. See ‘Register my charity
regulations made under the ACNC Act (also called the ACNC Regulations)
reporting period
the 12-month time period that your charity reports on, when reporting to the ACNC. This may also be called the ‘accounting period’ or ‘financial year’. The ACNC uses the 1 July to 30 June reporting period. If a charity uses a different reporting period it must request a ‘substituted accounting period’ (SAP)
responsible persons
a person (or organisation, in some limited cases) who is a member of the charity's governing body (including a director or committee member) or who is a trustee (including insolvency trustee or administrator), responsible for directing a charity. Called a ‘registered entity’ in the ACNC Act (section 205-30)
small (registered) charity
a registered charity with annual revenue of less than $250 000
self-assessing religious institution
religious institutions that have assessed themselves (before 3 December 2013) as eligible for income tax exemption
substituted accounting period (SAP)
a financial reporting period other than 1 July to 30 June that has been approved by the Commissioner
Standard Business Reporting
tax concession charity
a person or a company that holds property on behalf of other people or entities, the ‘beneficiaries’ under a ‘trust’ (a legal concept) – a ‘responsible person’
withhold information
A registered charity can ask the ACNC to withhold some of its information from (not published it on)the public ACNC Register. You must apply to have charity information withheld and there are only some circumstances when we may withhold your charity’s information. For example, public ancillary funds can ask for information about individual donors to be withheld in some cases.
a legal document setting out who gets part or all of a person's estate when they die