The ACNC released their annual Compliance Report for 2017 earlier this year. A copy is available on their website here.
The Report contains a range of useful information on the ACNC’s enforcement activities. While much of these are based on community complaints the Report indicates that at the end of 2017, the ACNC conducted proactive data matching work against Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), NSW Electoral Commission and QLD Electoral Commission to identify registered charities that have declared donations to political parties or candidates.
As a result of this data matching process 23 registered charities were identified as declaring donations to political parties or candidates. The ACNC is looking into these charities further to ensure they are not at risk of having a disqualifying purpose and that charitable funds are solely being applied to advance the charity’s purpose.
The types of concerns that were investigated by ACNC following initial assessments is also helpful as a basis for reviewing school practices –
Of some concern is a case study included in the Report, see here. According to the Report the ACNC ‘received information claiming that that the charity board had used charitable funds to purchase retirement gifts for two responsible persons, valued at a total of $10,000’ .
The charity subsequently acknowledged that two former responsible persons had been presented with gifts of a watch, valued at $5,000 each. However, according to the Report, ‘the charity failed to demonstrate that it had considered whether it was appropriate to use charitable funds to provide the gifts. The charity also failed to demonstrate that the decisions made to approve these gifts were properly authorised and documented. The ACNC was not satisfied that the use of charitable funds for the gifts was applicable to its charitable objects.’ The two former responsible persons ended up reimbursing the charity for the gifts.
This is a clear warning to schools and other charities in relation to the recognition of the service of retiring board members, or indeed staff.