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Charity complaints increased by almost 50 per cent, ACNC reveals

The number of charity concerns has increased by almost 50 per cent over the last financial year

New research has found that the number of complaints about charities have increased by almost 50 per cent over the last financial year.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) received 1,869 charity concerns in the 2017-18 financial year. This is a 47 per cent increase over the previous year’s total of 1,278 concerns regarding charity organisations.

In this time, the ACNC completed 108 investigations which resulted in 22 revocations of charity status. Up to 30 June 2018, 65 charities had their registration revoked following compliance investigations since the ACNC’s establishment.

“The ACNC takes all concerns seriously, and where there is evidence of misconduct, we will investigate,” a spokesperson from the ACNC said. “Where we find serious breaches of the ACNC Act and Governance Standards, we take firm action.”

The most common complaint was in regards to fraud and financial mismanagement, with particular concern over poor financial controls, inadequate due-diligence of the employees and partners and a failure by responsible persons to act in the best interest.

Due to secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act, it is unable to confirm specific reasons for compliance action, “however, revocation of charity status is the ACNC’s most severe enforcement power and strips an organisation of its entitlement to access Common-wealth charity tax concessions.”

“The ACNC has a risk-based compliance approach, and recognises that most registered charities are set up for charitable purposes and are run by dedicated, capable people who make a valuable contribution to the community,” the spokesperson said.

“The ACNC tries to prevent and address problems through providing education, support and guidance to help charities stay on track.”

The ACNC also undertook a yearly project to analyse Annual Information Statements to ensure that charities are reporting correctly.

During 2017-18, around 36,000 statements were analysed for errors, which resulted in corrections of over $20 billion in revenue and over $9 billion in assets.

State and territory-based charity figures on ACNC’s compliance activity are expected to be released by the commission early next year.

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