The regulatory framework facing Not For Profit organisations is as varied as the sector itself.
Many of the regulations which apply to Not For Profit organisations also apply to businesses or individual members of the public. In addition, organisations must be aware of any legislation which is unique to Not for Profits.
Types of legislation
The types of legislation which apply to Not For Profit organisations can be divided into Not For Profit-specific and activity-specific regulation.
Legislation related to registration
Establishing your organisation as a formal legal entity will be governed by legislation. Most commonly this is one of the following:
- Associations Incorporations Reform Act 2012 (Vic) – incorporated association is a specific legal type only for Not For Profits
- Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) (Cwth) – specific legislation for aboriginal community-controlled organisations
- Corporations Act 2001 (Cwth) – a special purpose type of ‘NFP company’ is available for Not For Profits
- Co-operatives National Law Application Act 1996 (Vic)
In addition, there are a number of organisations that have been established based on a specific Act of Parliament.
Legislation related to operations, activities or services
This may include Local, State or Federal Government regulations for activities or services that require registration, licences or permits.
Example activities include working with children, fundraising, serving food and alcohol, and activities conducted in public spaces including local parks, streets and pavements.
Services requiring registration or permits can include education and training, kindergarten and childcare services, and some community housing providers.
Organisations may have additional requirements relating to employment, tax, and occupational health and safety.
Major regulators of Not For Profit regulatory requirements include:
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)
The ACNC is the independent national regulator for charities, established to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden on, and enhance public trust in, the charity sector. ACNC supports and registers organisations as charities, which is required to receive some charity tax concessions from the ATO.
Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
ASIC administers the Corporations Act which governs the establishment of Not For Profit companies limited by guarantee.
Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
The ATO administers the Australian taxation and superannuation systems; this includes tax obligations and exemptions for Not For Profit organisations. Certain organisations can seek endorsement by the ATO as a deductible gift recipient.
Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
CAV administers the Acts that regulate and register Incorporated Associations and Co-operatives. CAV is also Victoria’s consumer affairs regulator whose scope includes fundraisers, renting and accommodation, shopping and trading.
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC)
ORIC supports and regulates the corporations that are incorporated under the CATSI Act. It does this by advising them on how to incorporate, training directors, members and key staff in good corporate governance, and by making sure they comply with the law and by intervening when needed.
State Revenue Office Victoria (SRO)
SRO is the Victorian Government’s major tax collection agency and collects a range of taxes, duties and levies. SRO may also provide exemptions from various taxes and charges, particularly for those Not For Profit organisations assessed as charitable.
Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR)
Not For Profit organisations must seek permits from the VCGLR to conduct otherwise illegal activities such as serving alcohol or holding a raffle, bingo, or fundraising event.
Other compliance requirements
In addition, Government funded organisations are expected to comply with specific regulatory or best practice standards and guidelines which relate to their activities. These conditions are noted in individual agreements.