PAFs Given Charity Register Privacy Option
12 September 2013 at 12:15 pm
It’s still unclear how many philanthropic funds are expected to apply to continue to keep their philanthropy private using an amended regulation through the national charity regulator, the ACNC.
Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs) have the option to apply for privacy and confidentiality under a new privacy regulation, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Amendment Regulation 2013 (No. 2), which came into effect on May 16, 2013.
Essentially it amends the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legislation to prevent the publication of information on the public ACNC Register, where such information may result in the identification of the private details of a donor to a PAF.
For this to be relevant the PAF must apply to the ACNC to maintain privacy. There are now about 1,000 PAFs in existence, with about 50 PAFs currently being established each year.
The ACNC says it is working with peak bodies in delivering targeted communication to PAFs so that they are aware of the withholding process, how to apply and any timeframes that may affect them.
There are about 640 PAFS registered with the ACNC and as at September 11 less than 10 had applied to have information withheld from the ACNC Register.
The ACNC has placed an application form called the Form AE: Private ancillary funds – information on Register on its website for PAFs wanting to use the privacy registration.
The form explains that a Private Ancillary Fund can apply to have information withheld or removed from the ACNC Charity Register if the information is likely to identify an individual donor; or publishing contact details would create an unreasonable administrative burden for your charity.
ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe says the regulator has temporarily withheld the information relating to all Private Ancillary Funds so that it can implement this new regulation in an orderly way.
“All charities can request information to be withheld from an annual information statement, a financial report, audit or review report, if the information identifies an individual donor,” according to one of the Commissioner’s Policy Statements.
“The Register is an important way in which the ACNC promotes transparency and accountability and therefore promotes the object under the ACNC Act of maintaining, protecting and enhancing public trust and confidence.
“The data on the Register will also provide useful information on charities that will contribute to public understanding of charities, and policy development relating to charities.
“The ACNC therefore encourages PAFs and other charities to make information about themselves available to the public. However, the ACNC respects the wishes of some donors for privacy, which the amended Regulation reflects.”
Philanthropy Australia CEO Louise Walsh says as the peak body it is engaged with the ACNC and Treasury in developing the amended regulation.
“It’s all about giving the PAFs the option to opt in or opt out of providing their information,” Walsh said.
“In the end we are making sure that our PAF members clearly understand how to provide the information. We have sent out the ACNC application form to members. Some will be happy and other will not be happy but the ball will be in their court.”
The Head of Philanthropic Services at the Myer Family Company, Peter Winneke, has previously argued that if Private Ancillary Funds do not remain private, under the current reform process, it is likely that their growth, and that of the philanthropic sector, will significantly diminish.
“The introduction of PAFs in 2001 has arguably had a greater positive impact on this country’s small philanthropic sector than any other measure in our history,” Winneke said.
“In our experience the vast majority of existing founders of PAFs are appalled at the breach of trust relating to the possibility that family foundations that were established within rules stating that they would be private, would now suddenly become public in nature. Many would simply wind up.”
PAFs have until the end of November to apply for the privacy option.