Deregistered AFL-Linked Charity Considering Appeal
Thursday, 12th February 2015 at 9:30 am
The Balls4Life Foundation, the AFL-linked charity that was deregistered by the national charity regulator this week, is seeking legal advice on an appeal against the decision.
The charity which was set up in partnership with the AFL in 2010 has 60 days to apply for an internal review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) decision.
The ACNC announced on Tuesday that the charitable status of the Balls4Life Foundation had been revoked over governance issues following an investigation into the organisation’s operations and activities.
The founding director, South Australian-based businessman Scott Matthews, said in a statement to Pro Bono Australia News that “the partnership between the AFL and its 18 clubs with the Balls4Life Foundation continued in 2012”.
“The Balls4Life Foundation was established to raise awareness of men’s health issues, initially supporting Prostate Cancer,” Matthews said in the statement.
“In 2013 the Foundation dismissed its Foundation Manager and begun winding up its operations. The Foundation has not operated since late 2013.
“Balls4Life provided a large amount of awareness in relation to men’s health issues while it was operating.”
A spokesperson for Matthews said the charity was voluntarily wound up in 2014 and their lawyers were now investigating the possibility of an appeal against the ACNC decision to rebuild their reputation.
The AFL’s annual report in 2012 said during each week of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season, the players from the winning teams autographed a match ball which was then auctioned via the Balls4Life website.
It has been estimated that with some 200 game day footballs signed and auctioned for around $500 each, the charity had the potential to raise $100,000 a year.
“Net proceeds of money raised from auction sales are used to build awareness for men’s health, primarily prostate cancer awareness and support services,” the annual report said.
“Balls4Life is in partnership with the AFL, all 18 AFL clubs, the AFL Players Association, Cricket Australia, PGA of Australia, as well as media, advertising and supporting partners.
“The Balls4Life Foundation is a registered charity and to date has donated funds to The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, as well as the Reach Foundation as a tribute to Jim Stynes.”
The Reach Foundation has confirmed that it received a donation from Balls4Life in 2012.
However, the AFL told Pro Bono Australia News that it discontinued the relationship with Balls4Life in February 2014 via a letter to founding director Scott Matthews.
The ACNC said the Foundation was a Discretionary Investment Trust and public ancillary fund which benefitted from deductible gift recipient status as well as tax concessions for GST, income tax and fringe benefit tax since it was established in 2010.
“It had its charity status revoked by the ACNC on 5 February 2015 and this decision is effective from 3 December 2012, the date it was transferred from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to the ACNC,” an ACNC statement said.
ACNC Assistant Commissioner of Charity Services, David Locke, explained that the ACNC takes a proportional approach to compliance activity.
"The ACNC has a range of regulatory powers at its disposal,” Locke said.
“This can include guidance and support, warnings, directions and enforceable undertakings. Where appropriate the ACNC can also revoke an organisation’s status as a registered charity.
“As an Assistant Commissioner of the ACNC I have made a decision to revoke Balls4Life Foundation’s registration as a charity under section 35-10 (1)(a) and (1)(c)(i) and (1)(c)(ii) of the ACNC Act.”
Section 35-10 (1)(a) and (c)(i) and (ii) of the ACNC Act applies where:
(1)(a) at any time after the date of effect of the registration, the entity is or was not entitled to registration;
(1)(c)(i) the registered entity has contravened a provision of this Act, or it is more likely than not that the registered entity will contravene a provision of this Act;
(1)(c)(ii) the registered entity has not complied with a governance standard… or it is more likely than not that the registered entity will not comply with such a standard.
The ACNC says it has received over 1,000 complaints against charities since it was established over two years ago. Members of the public can lodge complaints and concerns by visiting acnc.gov.au/charityconcern.