Insights from the ACNC annual report

The ACNC has tabled its 2016–17 annual report, its fifth to parliament since it was established in December 2012.

Acting ACNC commissioner David Locke revealed that more and more Australians were accessing the ACNC’s charity register – Australia’s first searchable database of charities.

‘In 2016–17, searches of the ACNC [register] jumped by 37 per cent compared [with] last year.  We have now had over two million searches […] and this is increasing all the time’.

He added: ‘We’re pleased that members of the public and donors are increasingly using the [register] to ensure that charities are registered with the ACNC and to find out information about their governance and financials.’

Commenting on the first anniversary of the registered charity tick, Mr Locke said: ‘(It) is a simple, attractive logo that registered charities can use to show their charity status.  Over 10,000 charities have downloaded their copy of the logo, including some of Australia’s [best-known] charities.  We are seeing the [tick] displayed in all kinds of places, from fundraising brochures to mini vans.’

More than 2800 new charities were added to the register, bringing the number of registered charities to more than 55,000.

Disappointingly, the ACNC data-integrity project team also reviewed the records of more than 42,000 charities and worked with them to correct almost 7000 errors.

The ACNC’s work to ensure registered charities are complying with the ACNC Act also remained a strong focus for the regulator in 2016–17.

‘This year the ACNC addressed more public concerns about charities than ever before.  The ACNC is […] also working proactively with a wide range of federal and state agencies to identify misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of charities,’ Mr Locke said.

‘Our compliance work has changed from predominantly reacting to concerns, to proactively identifying risk and undertaking targeted investigations and enforcement action.

‘In 2016–17, we managed 18 per cent more compliance cases than we did the previous year and took more enforcement action. The registrations of 22 charities were revoked following compliance investigations – more than double the number in 2015–16.’

Charities need to comply with the ACNC Act and governance standards.  These are legal obligations, and, where there are serious breaches, the ACNC will take firm but fair action.

Red-tape reduction was a priority for the ACNC in 2016–17, as it will be again in 2017–18.  Significant progress was made towards reducing red tape for charities in 2016–17; legislation has been passed in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, resulting in streamlined reporting requirements and saving thousands of charities vital resources.

Use of the charity passport, the ACNC’s data-sharing portal, has also increased; 20 government agencies use it to access charity data.

The ACNC’s 2016–17 annual report is available at

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