Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has revealed the government’s desire to replace the charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with a charity evaluator model based on the US-based Charity Navigator. Regulation of charities would return to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

 

Since its inception at the end of 2012, the ACNC has been building the Register, which is at the heart of charity regulation. It provides a free, online, credible, searchable database on charities. The public and donors can — for the first time — identify bona fide charities by searching the Register.

The data on the register comes from information provided at the point of registration and on the Annual Information Statement (AIS) that all charities are required to provide to the ACNC each year. Research has shown that it takes charities ten minutes to complete the AIS — this is not an onerous compliance obligation.

The national collection of information on the charity sector and its dissemination through the public portal on the ACNC website allows all stakeholders who wish to donate, volunteer and be involved with charities to access easily information about every charity in Australia and provides comparability. Those charities fulfilling their mission and with good governance arrangements in place welcome the transparency. However, having finally acquired this extraordinary national collection of data on the charity sector, which can influence understanding of its economic and social value, research, policy development and donor decisions, we risk going back to being in the dark about charities and their contribution, as data collection will no longer tied to the AIS.

To me, this looks like major step bqckwards.

See the Governance Institute of Australia’s take on this at http://www.governanceinstitute.com.au/news-media/news/2014/02/government-confirms-it-intends-to-abolish-the-acnc/