Charities commission saves not-for-profits millions

The Senate Estimates process always throws up interesting tidbits. Last night we found out just how much the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission saves charities each year by streamlining their regulatory and reporting requirements.



The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is saving Australian charities $120 million a year by reducing compliance costs, according to evidence given in Estimates.

During last night’s Senate Economics Committee hearings, Charities Commissioner Susan Pascoe confirmed that her organisation cuts red tape for charities, freeing up millions of donor dollars.

Ms Pascoe gave evidence that the commission achieves this by offering a one-stop-shop for registration and reporting, as well as providing a framework for harmonising charity laws across Australia.

Since the commission was set up under Labor in 2012, charities can spend less of their time and money on filling in paperwork, and more on helping people in the community.   

Despite the clear benefits for Australian charities and the communities they serve, the Abbott Government insists the commission should be abolished.

For more than a year Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has been pushing to return some of the commission’s functions to the Australian Tax Office, and leave charities to self-report on their other activities.

Last night, Commissioner Pascoe confirmed that this would place a heavy burden on Australian charities, stating:

“If they had to self-report, not only do you have to add the cost of that reporting, but only 7 per cent of charities have a website. So there would be a significant cost to them financially, and then the administration of a website, the IT systems required and the in-house expertise in small volunteered based organisations would be considerable…in the consultation sessions we have done there is a generalised fear amongst the small charities that this impost could be coming.”

– Susan Pascoe, 22 October 2014

This follows an independent report from Ernst and Young earlier this month, which found that the charities commission has a crucial role to play in reducing the paperwork burden for charities.

“A core component of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s reporting framework and efforts around reducing red tape is the ‘report once, use often’ principle. This principle is consistent with recommendations issued by the Productivity Commission, the National Commission of Audit, the Australian National Audit Office, the Treasury and the Department of Finance.”

- Ernst & Young, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission: The regulatory and reporting burdens on the Not-for-profit sector, page 30

Australian charities should be able to focus their scarce time and resources on helping people. There is clear evidence that the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission lets them do that.

The charities commission costs just $15 million annually, yet saves charities $120 million. The Abbott Government says it believes in cost-benefit analysis, so why not support a body that produces eight dollars of benefits for charities for every dollar of government spending?



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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.