Australia’s charity regulator says a fresh focus on consultation has strengthened its work to build public confidence in the sector. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) 2022-23 annual report has been tabled in Parliament.
ACNC Commissioner Sue Woodward AM said the report demonstrates the breadth of the Commission’s work and achievements. “In 2022–23, we strengthened our focus on consultation with the sector and on maximising the impact of our data, such as that available on the Charity Register, which is viewed millions of times each year,” Ms Woodward said.
The ACNC participated in and spoke at almost 200 charity sector conferences and forums. Significant consultation took place on key pieces including Commissioner Interpretation Statement reviews and changes to related party transaction reporting. The ACNC Sector Forum, Adviser Forum and Consultation Panel continued to provide insights and feedback.
The Commission made 20 submissions, including to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Philanthropy. The 9th edition of the Australian Charities Report was published and featured data analysis on grant making charities, including various types of philanthropic bodies, which will further inform the Inquiry. We anticipate the Inquiry findings will be critical to the sector’s financial sustainability.
There were 20 million views of the ACNC website where important new guidance was published this year, including advice for charities that wanted to take part in public discussion about the Voice to Parliament referendum. “Charities told us that advocacy was an important area of their work and they wanted greater clarity on the rules,” Ms Woodward said. “We spent time in a range of forums emphasising that charities have the right to advocate to further their charitable purpose. We added specific details about the referendum to our guidance anticipating that charities would need that confirmation.”
A new Charity Data Hub was created to consolidate ACNC publications and data about registered charities. After significant consultation with the sector, a suite of free, online short courses was also launched to strengthen good governance.
The ACNC received 2,106 concerns about charities in 2022-23. Nearly one third were concerns that someone used a charity’s money for personal gain. One quarter related to mismanagement of charity funds.
Fifty-five investigations were finalised. This was lower than in the previous year, in part due to the increased complexity of cases. We revoked the registration of 7 organisations following investigations, and worked on several joint investigations and activities with Australian and state agencies. Thirty charities were given advice to help resolve governance issues and 46 matters were referred to other government agencies.
We received over 5,500 registration applications, resulting in 2,652 charities becoming registered . Around 100 applications were refused, with most of the others either closed because they were incomplete or withdrawn because the applicant became aware after discussions that they did not meet eligibility requirements.
Significant improvements were achieved in the advice service. There were 22,932 phone queries, with 80% answered within four minutes. Close to 12,000 written inquiries were also answered.
Red tape reduction progressed well. For charities conducting fundraising in Queensland, reforms enabled them to report once to the ACNC and notify (rather than register) their intention to fundraise with the state regulator. The ACNC will work with all state and territory governments to promote and support the implementation of their agreed national fundraising principles, announced in February.
Ms Woodward began her term as Commissioner last December shortly after the ACNC’s 10th anniversary. The report sets out some key achievements over the decade, such as improved data on the Charity Register and major red tape cuts for charities across Australia “As someone who envisioned the establishment of a regulator and was here at the ACNC’s beginning, it is a pleasure to see how far the ACNC has come,” she said. “I aim to build on its success by evolving our regulatory approach further and responding to changes in the sector, while also ensuring we get the fundamentals right.”
Media inquiries: For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact ACNC Media email@example.com or 0481 456 411.
In 2022–23, the ACNC:
Strengthened the focus on consultation with the sector
Maximised the impact of its data
Created a new Charity Data Hub
The Charity Register continues to be a key tool, viewed millions of times each year.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact ACNC Media: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0481 456 411