DGR Status Opens Doors for More Investment in Women
19 February 2019 at 8:20 am
The Australian Women Donors Network has been granted Deductible Gift Receipt status, 18 months after it was announced in the budget, in a move it says could increase philanthropic donations to help women and girls.
Julie Reilly, CEO of AWDN, told Pro Bono News the DGR 1 status meant the organisation was now able to receive philanthropic support in its own right, and while it didn’t guarantee funding, it opened up more options.
“The lack of DGR 1 previously presented a barrier for potential funders, many of whom don’t accept grant applications from entities who don’t have DGR 1,” Reilly said.
“It means funders who recognise the importance of our work are able to invest in our work and impact, which focuses on strengthening society by increasing investment in women and girls.”
She also noted the status meant it could now receive money from Private Ancillary Funds which can only donate to organisations with a DGR 1 status.
A number of intermediary networks such as Philanthropy Australia, Social Traders, and Social Ventures Australia have been granted DGR 1 status over the last few years.
Reilly said it showed that intermediary organisations were being recognised for their role and importance in civil society.
“I see this reflecting a maturing of the sector and a recognition that intermediaries such as ours play an important role in a healthy, professional, philanthropic ecosystem,” she said.
AWDN had campaigned to the government for a special listing as the organisation did not qualify for DGR 1 status under tax law.
Reilly thanked the network’s supporters for all their hard work to get the status approved.
“We again thank all those who worked long and hard to make this happen and look forward to working in new ways with philanthropy to grow philanthropic investment in women and girls,” she said.
The Smile Like Drake Foundation, the Paul Ramsay Charitable Foundation and the Victorian Pride Centre were among other organisations approved for DGR 1 status under a special listing.
In a separate bill, that passed the Senate on 5 December and the lower house last Tuesday, Australian Philanthropic Services, Foundation 1901 and Sydney Chevra Kadisha were also given the right to receive tax-deductible donations by Parliament.
According to a report by the Australian Financial Review this has prompted some sector experts to call for greater transparency around the process, which they said favours well-connected charities.
The report used Australian Philanthropic Services as an example, and said having politically connected members on its board such as Chris Cuffe, David Gonski, Gail Kelly, Belinda Hutchinson and Tim Fairfax, gave it an advantage over other organisations.
Krystian Seibert, industry fellow at Swinburne’s Centre for Social Impact, said that the specific listing process left a lot to be desired.
However, he stressed that he welcomed organisations such as the AWDN receiving specific listings, given their contribution to society.
“It’s great that these organisations have received specific listings, and it recognises the important work they do helping to grow philanthropy and benefiting the community,” Seibert told Pro Bono News.
“The AWDN plays an important and unique role within Australia’s philanthropic sector, so it’s only fitting that it has received DGR status.”
But he said the DGR framework was broken and needed comprehensive reform.
“For many organisations, the only option they have is to apply for a specific listing, a process which leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.
“Organisations shouldn’t have to jump through the hoops of that process, which is arduous and complex, requires a lot of lobbying and has a very low success rate.”
Sue Woodward, director of Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service, added that worthy organisations were missing out because of the specific listing process.
“The problem with the process is that it can favour those who have good political connections and influence, with other equally worthy organisations missing out because they don’t know of or can’t navigate the process,” Woodward told Pro Bono News.
Seibert said the solution was to expand access to DGR 1 status, based on the recommendations of the Not-for-profit Sector Tax Concession Working Group in 2013.
“That way, you’d need a lot less specific listings, and many organisations which currently miss out on DGR 1 status, such as community foundations, would be able to access it,” he said.
In 2017, Philanthropy Australia also made a submission on DGR framework reform, in which it set out a proposal that would provide more transparency around the specific listing process.