Concerns about charities increase

The ACNC has reported a 6 per cent increase in concerns about charities in 2017-18.

The 2018 edition of the commission’s Charity Compliance Report found that more than 1800 concerns were raised about charities.

Key findings were:

  • 1804 concerns were raised – up 6 per cent from 2017;
  • Biggest type of issue encountered by the compliance team was private benefit (26 per cent);
  • 20 per cent of concerns assessed by the team were identified by internal processes – up from 8 per cent in 2017;
  • 90 investigations were finalised – up from 82 in 2017;
  • 16 charities had their registrations revoked;
  • 18 penalty notices were issued;
  • 24 charities entered into a compliance agreement with the ACNC;
  • Two charities entered into an enforceable undertaking;
  • The ACNC issued regulatory advice 71 times;
  • 113 double-defaulter charities had their registrations revoked for failure to submit two annual information statements, and
  • Charities subject to compliance cases controlled over $11.9 billion of charitable assets.

ACNC commissioner Gary Johns noted that charity concerns have increased each year since the ACNC was established in late 2012.

“We have seen concerns grow from the mid-600s in 2013-14 to almost three times that in 2018,” Dr Johns said.

“The annual increase likely mirrors the community’s growing awareness of the ACNC as the national charity regulator. This is supported by the fact that most of these concerns – 57 per cent – were raised by individuals. Individuals being past or current volunteers, employees, beneficiaries, and members of the public.”

Dr Johns said that a key theme of this year’s report was identifying and managing risk.  

“The key is identifying and managing risk appropriately through strong governance policies and procedures. In this year’s report, we shared a real-life case study where a charity identified fraud and took firm action. The charity not only addressed the matter – they also reduced the risk of fraud occurring again.”

“Guide Dogs Victoria have courageously shared their story, and in doing so have shown that even the largest, most iconic charities face risk, both internal and external.”

In 2019, the ACNC will focus on publishing practical guidance and tools to help charities mitigate risks and strengthen their governance.