Deregistered Charity Founder to Soldier On
Tuesday, 12th August 2014 at 11:27 am
The founder of a Queensland-based foundation deregistered by the charity regulator in June has vowed to fight on to regain her tax deductible status.
|Dr Arthur Crawford whose widow Jill Vogler set up a Foundation in his memory.|
Jill Vogler’s charity, the Arthur Crawford Foundation, was set up in 1995 in honour of her late husband who was a Brisbane surgeon who served in the medical corps during the Vietnam War. Crawford was also a Liberal member of the Queensland Parliament between 1969 and 1977.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission revoked the Arthur Crawford Foundation’s registration as a Public Benefit Institution citing compliance issues on June 30. It was the first of three charities including two controversial children’s charities deregistered on July 22 by the ACNC.
The Arthur Crawford Foundation was listed as assisting Aborigines, People with Disabilities and Youth.
Vogler, who now lives in Inverell in regional NSW, claims a series of personal misfortunes and just too much work assisting people in need, led to the deregistration.
The 63-year-old says she is determined to reapply for registration so that her many benefactors can receive a tax deductible receipt for their generosity.
Vogler told Pro Bono Australia News that a 19-month dispute over a deceased estate left her without a permanent home or address for the Foundation. She explained her situation while she was leading a companion dog through the wards of a local aged-care facility.
“I came unstuck when the 87-year-old man I was employed to nurse passed away. I was thrown out onto the street and had no permanent address to give the ACNC,” she said.
“All my documents for the Foundation were locked away and I couldn’t get to them. One thing led to another and my Post Office Box was closed.
“We ran out of money for the Foundation but I am committed to the work. Helping people here in Inverell was so big I had to start using my own money.
“Really, I have invested wisely in the people who need help to keep the memory of my husband alive. He went to look after the troops when he didn’t have to go. He did a lot for this country. He joined the army to help the wounded. We need to acknowledge him and do as much as we can for those who need help now.
“The deregistration is a little unfair to Arthur – a man who gave his life for Australia.”
Vogler said she felt the bureaucratic legal requirements did get in the way of their useful work.
“I have had a complicated dialogue with the ACNC but the legal requirements can be bureaucratic and I have done everything they (the ACNC) have asked of us,” she said.
“I have now sorted out the bank account and we have a new management committee here in Inverell. Our Brisbane committee is still selling muffins in the streets to raise money even without the tax status.
“I’ll have to start from scratch. How can I stop it. I need to keep the memory of my husband alive and keep helping all these people in need. But we are just so very busy helping the young mothers, recovering drug addicts, the elderly, the local Aboriginal community. The work is still to be done.”
Vogler has written to the ACNC saying she will not be appealing the decision to revoke the Foundation’s registration status.
She told the regulator that “the new team is keen to perpetuate the memory of her late husband and his respect for life and his care and concern for all folk irrespective of colour, race or gender, or social status”.
“We will continue the work started in Brisbane in 1995 and expanded since arriving in New South Wales. New beneficiaries are coming to us almost daily. Help is not always financial and I’m grateful for donations of time and resources to meet the needs of our target groups,” she said.
“As soon as we have improved cash flow with sufficient funds to cover multiple projects (for example, Maranatha Foundation, Domestic Pets Foundation etc) we may consider seeking registration with the Australian Government’s ACNC again so that donors to the Foundation will not be disadvantaged.”
Vogel told Pro Bono Australia News that she may have to make her charity’s objectives smaller with fewer beneficiaries. But she said she won’t be bowled over by the set back.
“It’s like trying to run down Simpson and his donkey. It can’t happen,” she said.
The ACNC said it acknowledges there were a number of personal circumstances that may have impacted on the operations of the Arthur Crawford Foundation.
“However, as the ACNC has a duty to protect the public’s trust and confidence in the sector, and ensure charities are meeting their charitable purpose and demonstrating good governance practice, the ACNC was obliged to revoke the Foundation’s charity status until these matters were remedied,” a spokesperson said.
“The charity has worked cooperatively with the ACNC, and has indicated its willingness to adopt a number of recommendations made by the Commission. An organisation that has had its charity status revoked can reapply for registration, where suitability will be assessed by the ACNC.
“Overwhelmingly, registered Australian charities are honest, professional and deserve public support. The Commission has dealt with more than 900 complaints or concerns about charities since its inception in December 2012.
“In most cases we have been able to work with charities to allow them to resolve any issues, and the majority of complaints have been resolved with education and advice, or cooperative interventions where the ACNC has worked with the boards to rectify any concerns,” the spokesperson said.
The ACNC said it had produced a range of education resources to support charities in achieving good governance practices, including the Governance for Good guide for board members and a simple self-assessment compliance test.