Charities commission unveils annual report
20 October 2020 at 8:22 am
The report focuses on the crises of 2020
The latest charities commission annual report has been released, unveiling how the commission supported charities through a year of turbulent challenges.
Tabled in Parliament on Friday, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission 2019-20 annual report highlighted the commission’s ability to work with governments across the country to respond to disasters and to support charities during crises.
In the midst of the bushfire crisis at the start of 2020, the ACNC paused most compliance activity for charities in bushfire-affected areas, unless there was a significant ongoing risk.
It also provided Annual Information Statement extensions for around 7,000 charities in those areas, and prioritised charity registration applications related to bushfire response.
“In challenging times, our role is to support charities which includes helping them to meet their obligations, but we also must ensure the public are protected,” Dr Gary Johns, ACNC commissioner, said.
With the ACNC website experiencing one of its busiest years (six times the number of page views on the previous year), an ACNC spokesperson told Pro Bono News it was important that the commission struck a balance between supporting charities, and regulating.
“We can’t overlook our regulatory role and charities need to fulfil their reporting and other obligations,” the spokesperson said.
And regulate they did. With 79 investigations finalised, the ACNC stripped 18 charities of their registrations in 2019-20, compared with 12 revocations in 2018-19.
Regulating through COVID-19
The report highlighted the work the ACNC did to assist charities to govern throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, by publishing news, information, and guidance on its website.
The ACNC also adjusted its approach to regulation by deferring the Annual Information Statement due date for more than 18,000 charities and suspending some investigations.
Johns said reducing the burden on charities during this time was critical, and that the worth of the charities sector was not something to be underestimated.
“Charities’ survival is vital to the community and the economy,” Johns said.
“The charity sector is very innovative and we have witnessed great resilience and resourcefulness.
“Charities arise for the most part to solve a problem – they are great problem-solvers but deserve our support. Now more than ever.”
See the full report here.