Charities under the microscope

The ACNC has reviewed registered charities to ensure that their records are accurate and only eligible charities are listed.

The initiative began in 2020-21 by examining 303 charities that were also public benevolent institutions and were missing information on their charity-register record – such as governing documents and responsible people.

The commission examined these charities to assess their eligibility to remain registered as PBIs and, where necessary, provided guidance to assist them to meet their obligations.

Where this was not possible, the ACNC revoked registration or access to specific charity subtypes. Most of the charities whose registrations were revoked (52 per cent did so voluntarily) were found to be no longer operating or government entities.

Sometimes new case law might have affected registration. Sometimes a charity’s purpose was not charitable.

Of the initial 577 higher-risk charities reviewed the commission found that:

  • 13 per cent required no follow up
  • 15 per cent had administrative concerns about registration obligations, the ACNC following up by sending them guidance, and
  • 72 per cent had potential entitlement concerns and either had been or would be subject to a more detailed review.

Other administrative reviews, which covered all registered charities, identified:

  • 248 charities with cancelled Australian business numbers
  • 125 incorrectly reporting as basic religious charities
  • 2470 without an appropriate governing document, and
  • 2513 with information withheld from the charity register.

The commission also identified charities that did not have any responsible people listed on the register or did not appear to have an appropriate number listed.