Understanding charities is at the foundation of our approach to regulation. We focus on guidance and education, and when we take action we consider the potential effect this could have on the charity and the community it serves.

Guidance, education and advice

We support charities to meet their obligations through guidance, education and and advice. This includes guidance on meeting ACNC obligations and on a range of topic areas that are important for good charity governance.

Our compliance powers

We have powers to gather information, monitor whether charities are meeting their obligations, and respond to charities not meeting their obligations.

If a charity fails to meet its obligations, we may:

  • Issue a warning: notify the charity that it is not meeting its obligations and explain what action we may take
  • Issue a direction: direct the charity to do or not do something
  • Issue an enforceable undertaking: make arrangements with the charity for what it needs to do to meet its obligations - these arrangements can be enforced by a court
  • Seek an injunction: ask a court to make the charity do or not do something
  • Suspend or remove a Responsible Person (for example, a member of the charity's board or committee)
  • Disqualify a Responsible Person who has previously been suspended or removed for 12 months. During that time, the person is not allowed to be a responsible person of any charity and will be listed on the disqualified persons register
  • in exceptional circumstances, revoke the charity’s registration (which may affect its eligibility for tax concessions), and
  • apply administrative penalties if it makes false or misleading statements or fails to submit documents on time.

Our powers to revoke a charity’s registration or apply administrative penalties can be used against any charity. For other formal powers, we can only exercise them on 'federally regulated entities’.

When we use our compliance powers

When deciding whether to use our powers or make certain decisions, we apply our regulatory approach and follow our compliance and enforcement policy and procedures.

We consider:

  • the type of problem
  • the person or situation at risk (for example, whether it affects people, money or public trust and confidence generally)
  • the nature and degree of potential harm
  • the likelihood and frequency of the problem occurring or reoccurring
  • the risk profile of the charity (for example, its size, its processes for accountability and its history of compliance and cooperation)
  • the behaviour of the charity's Responsible Persons.

Applying penalties

The ACNC can apply administrative penalties if a charity makes false or misleading statements or fails to submit documents on time.

We may remit all or part of any penalties that apply, in line our regulatory approach.

Example schedule of administrative penalties that apply to charities that fail to submit an Annual Information Statement by its due date:

Charity size

Minimum penalty
(less than 28 days overdue)

Maximum penalty
(more than 112 days overdue)

Small:
Annual revenue is less than $250 000

$200

$1050

Medium:
Annual revenue is $250 000 or more, but less than $1 million

$420

$2100

Large:
Annual revenue is $1 million or more

$1050

$5250

Publishing compliance decisions

We publish the use of any formal powers (other than applying administrative penalties) on a charity's record on the ACNC Charity Register.

We also publish details of action taken against charities on our compliance decisions page.

Related policy statements