Groups seeking charity status told to better prepare

By Melissa Coade

Thursday January 13, 2022

Almost 2,000 applications from Australian groups registering to become charities were closed for being incomplete in 2020-21. (Adobe)

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commissioner has advised prospective charities to ‘do their research’ to ensure they meet the requirements to officially register.

New information released by the ACNC shows more than half of applications to register as an official charity were unsuccessful last financial year.

Of the nearly 5,886 applications to register a charity that the commission processed in 2020-21, 862 were withdrawn and 151 were refused for being ineligible. Another almost 2,000 applications were closed as incomplete. 

In a statement on Thursday commissioner Dr Gary Johns said he applauded those motivated to join the 60,000 other registered charities in Australia, going on to advise people to do thorough research before starting the process of establishing their own.

“It is important to consider a range of matters, including the legal structure and governance framework most appropriate for your charity’s operations,” Dr Johns said, adding that applicants should include a governing document, such as a constitution, setting out their charitable purposes.

“We use that information to determine eligibility to be registered as a charity or for a particular charity sub-type,” he said. 

The ACNC has produced resources to help people wanting to apply for charity status, and Dr Johns recommended groups think about whether registering as a charity was what they needed to achieve their goals.

““Is setting up a new charity the best way to achieve your goals? There may be an existing charity that already does what you want to do or that may take on your idea as a project that it can support,” Johns said.

The ACNC’s charity register has also been updated to include enhanced search features for users to look up local charities or groups whose programs align with specific, searchable aims. 

“You can search the charity register to find charities that you could support or work with,” the commissioner added.

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