The number of concerns raised about Australian charities has risen again, according to a new report released by the national charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
The 2018 edition of the ACNC’s annual Charity Compliance Report found that more than 1,800 concerns were raised about charities, up 6% compared to 2017.
The ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, noted that charity concerns have increased each year since the ACNC was established in late 2012.
“We have seen concerns grow from the mid-600s in 2013-14, to almost three times that in 2018,” Dr Johns said.
“The annual increase in the number of concerns about charities likely mirrors the community’s growing awareness of the ACNC as the national charity regulator. This is supported by the fact that most of these concerns – 57% – were raised by individuals. Individuals being past or current volunteers, employees, beneficiaries, and members of the public.
“In 2018, a larger proportion of our Compliance team’s work was the result of internal ACNC analysis. The number of concerns identified proactively through intelligence gathering and data-matching jumped to 20%, up from 8% in 2017.
“Proactively identifying and addressing risk was a priority in 2018 and it will remain a priority in 2019 and beyond.”
Dr Johns explained that a key theme of this year’s report is identifying and managing risk.
“It is impossible for a charity to operate with zero risk,” Dr Johns said.
“Charities operate in high-risk environments and undertake high-risk activities. The nature of their work dictates that an element of risk is involved.
“The key is identifying risk and managing risk appropriately through strong governance policies and procedures. In this year’s report we shared a real-life case study where a charity identified fraud and took firm action. The charity not only addressed the matter – they also reduced the risk of fraud occurring again.
“Guide Dogs Victoria have courageously shared their story, and in doing so have shown that even the largest, most iconic charities face risk, both internal and external.”
“In 2018, we also issued regulatory advice to 71 charities to help them get back on track. This is a big part of our compliance work that the public and sector do not see.
“In 2019, the ACNC will continue to respond to concerns about charities that could adversely impact public trust and confidence, while proactively identifying charities that are at risk. We will also focus on publishing practical guidance and tools to help charities mitigate risks and strengthen their governance.”