Advocacy Updates

Update: Thursday 7 May  

Amendments to ancillary funds guidelines and COVID-19 disaster DGR status  

On Wednesday the Assistant Minister for Charities, Senator Zed Seselja, made two announcements to incentivise giving to support charities in response to COVID-19:  

New amendments to ancillary funds guidelines  

The amendments to the ministerial guidelines for public and private ancillary funds are to provide a credit for funds that make total distributions in 2019-20 and 2020-21 that are at least four percentage points above the minimum required distributions. The credit – equal to half the percentage points by which the distributions exceed the minimum – may be used to reduce the minimum distribution by up to one percentage point in 2021-22 and future financial years until the credit is exhausted.  

Treasury has confirmed that the intent of these amendments is the total distribution in the two years is four percentage points or greater than the minimum to be eligible for the credit in future years. For example: 

Private Ancillary Fund 

  • If a private ancillary fund distributes 7 per cent in both years, the requirement is satisfied because the total distribution is four percentage points higher than the minimum  
  • If it distributes 8.5 per cent in one year and 5.5 per cent in the other it would also meet the eligibility test and so on for the many other combinations, subject to the 5% minimum distribution being made in each year

Public Ancillary Fund  

  • If a public ancillary fund distributes 8 per cent in both years, the requirement is satisfied because the total distribution is four percentage points higher than the minimum  
  • If it distributes 7.5 per cent in one year and 4.5 per cent in the other it would also meet the eligibility test and so on for the many other combinations, subject to the 4% minimum distribution being made in each year 

The federal government also confirmed that if an ancillary fund has special circumstances affecting their ability to meet the minimum distribution requirements during this time, they may still apply to the ATO Commissioner to request a reduction.  

Philanthropy Australia welcomes the announcement by the federal government which will encourage ancillary funds to increase their granting during this time of immense need. We are waiting to receive the written guidance regarding this announcement and will update members as we receive further information.  

Government declares COVID-19 as a disaster – relief funds able to access 2-year DGR status 

The Federal Government also declared COVID-19 a disaster for the purpose of establishing Australian disaster relief funds as DGRs, allowing these funds to receive tax deductible donations.  

Donations to Australian disaster relief funds, established to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic, will be tax deductive when made within two years from 18 March 2020 (when the Federal Government officially announced COVID-19 as a pandemic).  

Disaster relief funds will need to apply for formal endorsement as a DGR fund with the ATO. This requires charity registration with the ACNC. Organisations seeking to establish a DGR Fund should contact the ATO’s Not-for-Profit advice line on 1300 130 248 or email   

Philanthropy Australia is still waiting to receive the written guidance regarding this announcement. We will update members once we have further information.  

Philanthropy Australia appreciates the collaborative dialogue we’ve had with the Assistant Minister for Charities and the Australian Government over ways we can support the work of the not-for-profit sector during this challenging time. These announcements are part of a broad set of policy recommendations that Philanthropy Australia is advocating to government to strengthen the critical role philanthropy can play during this crisis. 

For more information you can read the Assistant Minister’s media release here  
For the initial information received regarding how your Ancillary Fund can take advantage of the recently announced amendments to give more during this critical time please read here  
For more details on Philanthropy Australia’s COVID-19 policy priorities please read here 
For information regarding how Australian Philanthropy leaders are stepping up and responding to community needs during this unparalleled challenge please read our public statement here 


Update: Monday 27 April 

Further amendments to the JobKeeper legislation to support charities eligibility  

On Friday the Federal Government announced further amendments to the JobKeeper rules including:  

  • employees employed through a special purpose entity, rather than an operating entity 
  • charities and the treatment of government revenue 
  • religious practitioners 
  • the ‘one in, all in’ principle 
  • full time students aged 16 and 17 years old 
  • international aid organisations, and 
  • universities. 

These amendments provide charities with the option to include or exclude government revenue from this test, to ensure the eligibility of charities aren’t adversely affected where they are delivering significant services that are funded by government. It has also opened eligibility to international aid organisations listed on the Overseas Aid Gift Deductibility Scheme. 

The detail for these changes are available here: 

The Assistant Minister for Charities included the following information to the sector recently:  

I draw your attention to the below section in the Explanatory Statement, that sets out the ability for charities receiving government revenue to elect to exclude employees fully funded by this revenue from the JobKeeper program. 

Employees of charities paid under government grants  

Subsection 10A(5), recognising the unique nature of charities, provides an exception to the ‘one-in all-in’ principle that applies to nominating employees as eligible employees under the JobKeeper Scheme. Under this exception, ACNC-registered charities that have elected to disregard certain government grants when calculating their decline in turnover that have employees whose salary and wages are fully funded by those government grants may choose not to ask these employees to nominate as eligible employees for the purposes of the JobKeeper scheme. This choice is available only where the employer reasonably believes that the full amount of the employee’s salary and wages is funded for the relevant fortnight by a grant that has been disregarded in calculating GST turnover as a result of subparagraph 8(8)(h)(i).   

Whilst the exemption created under 10A(5) is voluntary, I would expect eligible charities to utilise this exemption to ensure that the JobKeeper is not paid to employees who are continuing to be fully funded by the taxpayer. I trust that charities will use this discretion to protect jobs while also ensuring taxpayer funds are used appropriately. 


Update - Thursday 9 April 2020

Federal Government Passes $130 billion JobKeeper Payment Legislation

Yesterday the Federal Government passed the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment legislation. This is the single largest piece of government spending in Australian history, with around 6 million Australians expected to receive $1,500 a fortnight.

On Monday evening the Treasurer confirmed that the eligibility threshold for the payment will be decreased to 15% for registered charities, one of the five COVID-19 recommendations we put to Government. Decreasing the threshold will result in significant support to thousands of charities and their staff, who are doing critical frontline work in supporting communities through COVID-19 and in some instances, working towards a vaccine. Read more about Philanthropy Australia welcoming the Government announcement, and acknowledging the critical advocacy from the social sector in our media release.

Philanthropy Australia looks forward to sharing the JobKeeper eligibility requirements as Treasury releases additional guidance in the coming days.

Below are key insights from the Minister, Shadow Minister and sector leaders:

Update – Friday 3 April 2020

Philanthropy Australia’s advocacy to the Government on COVID-19

  • On Tuesday this week, Philanthropy Australia met with the Assistant Minister for Charities, Senator Zed Seselja to discuss the role philanthropy is playing in tackling COVID-19, opportunities for closer collaboration between philanthropy and Government to support our charities and additional incentives the Government could consider to stimulate more giving during this time
  • During this meeting Philanthropy Australia provided the following recommendations for the consideration of the Government:
    • Providing a 150% tax deduction for any donations to deductible gift recipients (DGRs) over the next two financial years – meaning that donors could deduct 1.5 times the value of their donations to DGRs from their taxable income
    • Increase working capital into registered charities by:
      • Launching an Item 1 DGRs flow through grant pool with matched funding from government and philanthropy to provide discretionary grants to fund charities overhead costs to keep them afloat and delivering their work both during and after the crisis. This pool would be focused on supporting registered charities with an annual turnover of $5 million or less
      • Establishing a Loan facility/fund for registered not-for-profits, with the support of the banks, at cash rate, where philanthropy takes the first loss capped at 5%, with a government guarantee coming in thereafter. This facility would be to support the not-for-profits who have the underlying cash flow and business models that are likely to be re-established
    • No change to the regulatory minimum distribution requirements for public and private ancillary funds and the provision of credits for funds who ‘over distribute’ by at least 4% over the next two financial years, with these credits able to be used to reduce minimum distributions in subsequent financial years
    • Flexibility on the eligibility threshold for JobKeeper Payment to enable more charities to access the payment
  • Philanthropy Australia continues to work closely with key partners on the detailed specifics of the above recommendations. Once we receive confirmation if the Government is committed to any of these measures we will update our community
  • This week our Board approved a public statement on Australian Philanthropy’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis, which will be released on Monday 6 April. We look forward to sharing this statement with our community and the public at the beginning of next week
  • The first meeting of the newly established Charities Crisis Cabinet met on Tuesday, led by Susan Pascoe and Tim Costello. This meeting focused on setting the framework for the group and information sharing, we look forward to sharing more details with our community over the coming weeks  

Update – Thursday 26 March 2020

Providing support during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Philanthropy Australia undertook targeted advocacy in partnership with a range of social sector leaders last week to secure commitment from the Government to provide financial support measures for the charitable sector.
  • We are currently working on a collective public statement signaling the critical role philanthropy should be playing to tackle COVID-19 – we will released on week commencing 6 April.
  • In partnership with the Australian Communities Foundation we launched a free online COVID-19 granting platform for Australia allowing charities across Australia to register their funding needs and enable philanthropic funders to understand the granting opportunities available to respond to the critical and immediate needs of the sector.
  • We continue to have regular communication with the Assistant Minister for Charities regarding the role of philanthropy in responding to the COVID-19 challenge.
  • We have launched dedicated COVID-19 Resources, information and a member discussion forum for members on the Better Giving Hub.
  • We have launched a dedicated public page on our website sharing COVID-19 information and resources for the sector and the community.

Update – Wednesday 18 March 2020

Response to COVID-19

  • The need for more and better philanthropy in Australia has never been more profound, as our community feels the increasing social and economic impacts of COVID-19 so shortly after the catastrophic bush fires and floods of the summer. Philanthropy has a critical and leading role to play in helping us all to understand, respond to and address the challenges of COVID-19 and this rapidly evolving public health situation, and in supporting communities to develop their resilience for the recovery process.
  • Australia’s charitable sector employs over 1.3 million people, rely on the contributions of over 3.5 million volunteers and contributes 8% of Australia’s GDP. Our charities are vital to our economy and our communities. Right now, many Australian charities are facing a battle to survive. Fundraising activity is grinding to a halt, staff are being laid off and volunteering has slowed.  These changes are also impacting significantly on the services our sector can provide to support the most vulnerable members of our community get through COVID-19. The current estimated loss of over 260,000 jobs across Australian charities would create a negative impact on the Australian economy of $41.8 billion.  
  • Philanthropy has a critical role to play to get our charities through COVID-19 and last week, we released guidance on how philanthropy could respond to COVID-19 – we encourage you to read and share this widely within the sector.

Update - Monday 12 August 2019

Charities Assistant Minister outlines priorities for the sector 

Assistant Minister for Charities Senator the Hon Zed Seselja outlined his priorities for the sector in a keynote address to the Annual ACNC Regulatory Conference. He outlined red tape reduction, enhanced transparency and support for an independent and effective ACNC as key priorities. Read the full speech here.

The Senator was also recently interviewed on Sky News with the key message: “Charities are free to advocate. But we need to look at the margins where there are groups who seem to exist primarily to encourage the breaking of the law”. Watch the full interview here

Update – Friday 5 July 2019

Roundtable Policy Updates for members

Philanthropy Australia looks forward to hosting Roundtable Policy Updates for members to debrief on the recent federal election outcome and what it means for Australia’s charitable sector, an overview of Philanthropy Australia’s key policy and advocacy priorities over the next three years and a look at the upcoming Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, scheduled for 18 – 19 September in Canberra.

The Policy Updates will take place as follows:

  • South Australia: 30 July
  • Queensland: 31 July
  • Victoria: 19 August
  • Australian Capital Territory: 26 August
  • New South Wales: 29 August

Please look out for invitations from your Philanthropy Australia State Manager.

Update – Monday 27 May 2019

New Ministerial appointments under re-elected Morrison Government

After the re-election of the Federal Morrison Government on 18 May, the Prime Minister announced his new Ministry. The reshuffle has seen most relevant Ministers related to the work of Philanthropy Australia change, please see the list of new Ministers below:

Ministry Who’s in Who’s out
Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters Senator The Hon Zed Seselja

Position retained post-election.

Senator The Hon Zed Seselja The Hon Michael Sukkar

The Hon Stuart Robert MP (moved to Minister for NDIS and Government Services).

Minister for Families and Social Services  Senator the Hon Anne Rushton Minister Paul Fletcher MP (moved to Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts). 

Philanthropy Australia launched a media release formally congratulating the re-elected Morrison Government and acknowledging the first dedicated appointment of Ministerial oversight of the charitable sector, a positive step that PA welcomes. You can see the media release uploaded on our website here.  

You can see a copy of the full Second Morrison Ministry, as announced on 26 May here.

Update - Wednesday 13 May 2019

Key party responses to Philanthropy Australia’s federal election policy priorities

In the lead up to the election Philanthropy Australia wrote to all political parties represented in federal parliament seeking their support for our top 10 policy priorities for a more giving Australia. You can read the formal responses received from three parties below:

Federal Government response from Senator Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance, with responsibility for the ACNC

Federal Opposition election policy announcement for the Australian charitable sector, announced by The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits

Federal Australian Greens response Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Spokesperson on Families and Communities

Update - Friday 3 May 2019

Key outcomes from Philanthropy Australia's federal election rountables

Watch the below video with Sarah Wickham, Philanthropy Australia’s Policy and Research Manager, and Krystian Seibert, Philanthropy Australia’s Policy Advisor, discussing the key outcomes from Philanthropy Australia’s recent federal election roundtable events with Government and Opposition spokespeople:

Below is a collection of media stories discussing Philanthropy Australia’s 10 policy priorities for a more giving Australia:

  • The Australian: Sarah Davies discussing charities right to advocate in on 17 April here.
  • ABC News: Sarah Davies discussing the giving post Notre Dame and our federal election priorities here on evening of 17 May.
  • ABC Radio: Sarah Wickham discussing giving in Australia with Libby Gore and answering talk back callers on breakfast radio on 27 May here.
  • Pro Bono: an article from Sarah Wickham on 16 April introducing our federal election policy priorities and an article from Krystian Seibert on 2 May discussing a couple of our policies in further detail.

Update - Wednesday 17 April 2019

Federal election roundtables with government and opposition

On Monday and Tuesday Philanthropy Champions and Impact Members joined us for roundtable discussions advocating for the future of Australian philanthropy with The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits and The Hon Paul Fletcher, Minister for Families and Social Services.

We also shared Philanthropy Australia’s agenda this federal election with Pro Bono yesterday outlining why this election is the most critical for Australian philanthropy over the last century. You can read the article here.

Update - Thursday 11 April 2019

Top 10 Policy Priorities for 'A More Giving Australia'

Today Philanthropy Australia launched our Top 10 Policy Priorities for A More Giving Australia. This federal election we have set out 10 policy reforms that federal government can implement to take advantage of the impending $2.4 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer to supercharge the next generation of philanthropy, promote a flourishing civil society and support vibrant and inclusive communities.

There are six short-term priorities which can be realistically achieved within 1 – 2 years of the 2019 federal election, with minimal budgetary impact, and four medium to long-term priorities, which have a time horizon of up to five years and has a higher budgetary impact.

For all information relating to our federal election campaign, please visit the Philanthropy Australia 2019 Federal Election Hub.

Update - Monday 18 March 2019

Federal Labor’s commitment to exempt charities and philanthropic entities from policy change to dividend imputation arrangements

On 12 March the Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits, the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, wrote a letter to Philanthropy Australia and our members confirming Federal Labor’s commitment to exempt charities and philanthropic entities from their policy changes to dividend imputation (franking credits) arrangements. You can see a copy of the letter here that was sent in our Philanthropy Weekly e-newsletter on 13 March 2019.

Update - Wednesday 13 February 2019

Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century releases Report

On 19 June 2018 the Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century was set up to inquire and report on the current framework of fundraising regulation for charities and options for reform.

Philanthropy Australia put in a submission to the Committee and on 29 October 2018 we gave evidence at the Melbourne committee hearing. Our position was in support of the #FixFundraising coalition. As one of the founding members of the group, Philanthropy Australia strongly recommended that the Federal Government actively support and assist with the development of a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime. You can follow details relating to the #FixFundraising campaign here.

On 14 February the Committee handed down a unanimous report clearly finding the current fundraising regulations are an unworkable impost on Australia’s charities. It also recommended that the government respond to the Report of the Review Panel of the ACNC Acts (handed down almost 6 months ago) that made numerous recommendations that would cut red tape for charitable fundraising. However, despite numerous previous inquiries examining the fundraising regulations there are still no results, we are disappointed that there is no clearly identified way forward in this report.

On 15 February the #FixFundraising coalition launched a joint media announcement outlining our concerns around the Senate Committee’s inaction in resolving this issue, despite noting it as a serious concern for the charitable sector.

Update - Thursday 20 December 2018

Philanthropy Australia’s 2019 key Policy and Advocacy Priorities

Earlier this month the Philanthropy Australia Policy and Research Committee approved the following key Policy and Advocacy priorities for Philanthropy Australia in 2019:

2019 Federal Election Campaign engagement
2019 Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit (18 and 19 September in Canberra)
Development of a new three-year Government Relations Strategy, after the election of the new government
Scoping of a blueprint for the next decade of Philanthropy leadership in Australia

We look forward to communicating with members on these key projects in the new year. Should you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to email Sarah Wickham, our Policy and Research Manager on

Update - Wednesday 19 December 2018

ACNC Review: Government Response

Philanthropy Australia has been informed that the Federal Government is working on the Government Response to the ACNC Review Report which was tabled to parliament on 22 August.

This week Philanthropy Australia sent follow up communications to both the Assistant Treasurer overseeing the Government Response, the Hon Senator Zed Seselja, and key Treasury Department officials, outlining Philanthropy Australia’s position on a number of key recommendations from the ACNC Review Report and offering the opportunity to meet with the Assistant Minister’s office to further discuss our position. This letter is based upon the Philanthropy Australia ACNC Review submission which you can read here.

Update - Wednesday 28 November 2018

Electoral Laws Pass the House of Representatives

On 27 November the House of Representatives passed the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill. This marks the end of a significant advocacy effort by the Philanthropy Australia community, to secure the introduction of a robust and transparent system for regulating Australian elections without stifling the ability of charities to advocate for better policies, and the ability for philanthropists to fund their advocacy work.

Philanthropy Australia was proud to play a role in supporting the social sector to secure a meaningful outcome, most notably through our work as part of the Hands Off Our Charities alliance.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s final media release welcoming the new laws here and key quotes from the parliamentary debate on the bill here.

Update - Wednesday 22 November 2018

The Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017 Passes the Senate

On Thursday 15 November the Senate debated and passed the EFDR Bill and we anticipate the Bill to be passed by the House of Representatives on the week commencing 26 November, to be enacted for the 2019 Federal Election.

Philanthropy Australia publicly supported the final draft of this Bill, which provides for a robust and transparent system for regulating elections, including third parties and those who fund them. We believe that the Bill now represents this objective in a sensible and proportionate manner, and we welcome its passage through the Senate.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s media statement here and the Senate debate transcript here.

Update - Wednesday 21 September 2018

Philanthropy Australia gives evidence at the Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st

On Monday 29 October Philanthropy Australia gave evidence at the Select Committee on Charity Fundraising Inquiry supporting our submission. Philanthropy Australia has been a member of the #FixFundraising campaign since establishment in 2016 and our submission supports the work of this campaign to improve the state of fundraising regulation in Australia by developing a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime through amendments to the Australian Consumer Law.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s government submission here.

Update - Tuesday 16 September 2018

Electoral Act Changes

On 5 October Philanthropy Australia gave evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which conducted an Inquiry into amendments to the proposed Electoral Bill.

On 15 October the JSCEM its latest advisory report, based on the recent public inquiry. Philanthropy Australia’s evidence is positively represented in the report, with our main concerns being addressed in the latest inquiry, we are now just waiting on some further modifications. You can read Philanthropy Australia’s submission to the Inquiry here and the latest JSCEM report here.

Philanthropy Australia anticipates that the Bill will go to Parliament in October and will be enacted for the upcoming federal election.

For background, below is a short timeline on how this proposed Bill has evolved to date:

  • In December 2017 the Government introduced the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill 2017 to manage the influence of foreign donations on Australian politics as part of the JSCEM review of the 2016 federal election
  • The Bill was referred to JSCEM for inquiry and report and JSCEM undertook a detailed inquiry into the Bill, receiving over 200 submissions from a range of stakeholders (including Philanthropy Australia and some of our members)
  • JSCEM issued a detailed report of the Bill in April 2018. The Government has now responded to JSCEM’s recommendations by proposing amendments to the Bill.
  • The Ministers for Finance and the Public Services and the Special Minister for State wrote to the JSCEM asking it to consider whether those draft amendments satisfactorily addressed the JSCEM’s previous recommendations
  • The Department of Finance indicated that the supplementary parliamentary inquiry is the process by which the revised amendments should be exposed for public scrutiny and by which public comment should be gathered. This inquiry took place between 19 – 27 September. Philanthropy Australia and some of our members also engaged in this additional inquiry
  • As mentioned above, the latest JSCEM advisory report was released on 15 October
  • Upon the conclusion of the second inquiry, Philanthropy Australia anticipates that this Bill will be passed before the end of the 2018 Parliamentary Sitting Calendar, to be enacted for the upcoming 2019 federal election

Update - Thursday 30 August 2018 

NSW Electoral Funding Act 2018

Philanthropy Australia member, the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network, has prepared this guidance document to assist philanthropic funders to understand the Electoral Funding Act 2018 (NSW) and to provide a general picture of how the laws impact upon donors. It is not a substitute for legal advice on the specific circumstances of individual trusts and foundations.

For more information on the rules, check the Electoral Commission NSW website or seek independent legal advice.

This briefing note relates to:

  • NSW State Elections, not local government elections
  • Philanthropic funders who fund charities and not for profit organisations, not funders of political candidates

In this document, references to “charities” mean “doing” organisations which might undertake work to improve policies for the environment. References to “funders” or “donors” relate to philanthropic trusts, foundations and individuals which make grants to support the work of “doing” organisations.

The final section of the briefing note suggests an approach to advocacy funding, in the context of the 2019 NSW state election.

You  can download a full copy of the guidance document here: nsw-election-rule-philanthropy-briefing-august2018.

Update - Wednesday 29 August 2018

DGR Reform Submission


Treasury is seeking submissions on the proposed design for the following components of the Government’s package of deductible gift recipient (DGR) reforms announced on 5 December 2017:

  • the requirement for non-government organisations with DGR status to register as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) from 1 July 2019
  • transition arrangements to support existing organisations with DGR status to register as a charity with the ACNC
  • the Commissioner of Taxation’s discretion to exempt organisations with DGR status from the requirement to register as a charity in limited circumstances
  • the abolition of certain public fund requirements

The Government’s package of DGR reforms will strengthen the DGR governance arrangements, reduce administrative complexity and ensure appropriate oversight of entities with DGR status.

The purpose of public consultation is to seek stakeholder views on the proposed implementation of the DGR reforms covered in the consultation paper. Submissions for this consultation will close on 11.59pm (AEST) Friday 21 September 2018.

The Australian Taxation Office and the ACNC will release guidance materials on the practical application of the proposed implementation of the DGR reforms in due course.

Philanthropy Australia will be drafting a submission on behalf of members and the draft will be ready for member feedback on Friday 14 September (one week before the submission deadline). Should you be interested in providing feedback on the submission please contact Sarah Wickham on or you can also post your feedback on the Policy Submission section of the Better Giving Hub.

Update - Tuesday 28 August 2018

New Social Sector Ministers

Please see copy of the full Ministry here.

Update - Monday 27 August 2018

ACNC Review


The not-for-profit sector is large, diverse and makes immensely important contributions to the community.

Charities have annual revenue of $143 billion, or over 8 per cent of Australia’s GDP.  They employ more than 1.3 million people and engage 3 million Australians in volunteering their time and effort to helping others. This could increase to 6 million volunteers when the broader not for-profit sector is considered. A recent assessment identified approximately 257,000 non-profit organisations operating in Australia.

Australia’s 55,000 registered charities are regulated by the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) under the current not-for-profit regulatory framework. This framework does not extend to other not-for-profits.

Australia is well served by its charities and not-for-profit sector and with close to five years of proportionate government oversight and regulation through the ACNC, the overwhelming majority of Australian charities are considered to be well-governed, operating with sound financial management, and are worthy of the trust and confidence of the Australian community.

The Government is committed to making Australia’s not-for-profit sector stronger and recognises the crucial role the ACNC plays in ensuring the sector continues to thrive.


The review into the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legislation enabled the Government to meet its statutory obligation that a review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 be undertaken after their first five years of operation.  A report on the review’s findings and recommendations is required to be made to the Government by 3 June 2018. This report was laid before each House of the Parliament on 22 August 2018.

The final report makes 30 recommendations and has four parts:

  • Objects , Functions and Powers
  • Regulatory Framework
  • Red tape Reduction
  • Additional amendments


You can read a copy of the full report here and all the public submission made during the review process, including Philanthropy Australia’s submission here.

You can read Philanthropy Australia’s analysis on the ACNC Review here.

Justice Connect also developed a short video clip summarising the key elements of the Review here.

Shortly we will post our analysis on the report, but from an initial read there are no concerns.

Update - Wednesday 18 April 2018

Electoral Act Changes

Krystian Seibert, Policy Adviser, updates you on the progress of the Electoral Act Changes and other Philanthropy Australia news. 


Open Letter regarding Electoral Act changes in the Australian Financial Review (1 March 2018)

Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matter report into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (9 April 2018)

Article by Krystian Seibert in The Conversation – ‘New electoral law could still hobble charities’ (13 April 2018)

Article in The Guardian – Labor demands charities' advocacy be exempted from foreign donations ban (16 April 2018)

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Sarah Davies at

Update - Thursday 15 March 2018

Federal Oppostion Announcement on Dividend Imputation

As many Philanthropy Australia Members will be aware, the Federal Opposition has made an announcement regarding proposed changes to dividend imputation arrangements.

The Federal Opposition is proposing to end the refund of excess dividend imputation credits (also known as refundable franking credits).

However, income tax exempt charities (as well as income tax exempt trusts and foundations) will be permanently exempt from the change - meaning that they would still have access to refundable franking credits.

Philanthropy Australia is aware how important refundable franking credits are as a source of income for trusts and foundations, and that without access to them, the level of granting would be reduced.

We have therefore strongly made the case that existing refundable franking credit arrangements should not be changed for trusts and foundations, including raising this issue with the major parties before the last election.


If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or

Update - Wednesday 7 March 2018

Electoral Act Changes

As many Philanthropy Australia Members will be aware, the Australian Government is proposing some very concerning changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, which will have major implications for charities undertaking public advocacy and for their funders.

The following short video update from Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy & Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert, outlines Philanthropy Australia's efforts to oppose these changes and highlights how Members can assist by contacting elected representatives they may have a relationship with.

Open Letter in The Australian Financial Review

Last Thursday we published an Open Letter about the Electoral Act changes in the Australian Financial Review, which can be viewed here. It was signed by 66 philanthropists and philanthropic organisations - thank you to all the signatories, the letter is a great example of our collective voice as a movement. On Friday, an opinion piece about the changes by Martyn Myer AO and Jill Reichstein OAM was also published in The Age, reinforcing the messages in the Open Letter. It can be viewed here.

Two Page Briefing for Members

Philanthropy Australia is encouraging our Members to contact elected representatives that they may have a relationship with, to convey their concerns about the changes. We've prepared a two page briefing with key information for Members to assist with this, which can be accessed here.

If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or

Update - Monday 19 February 2018

Implications of Electoral Act Changes

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Sarah Davies, and Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, discuss the implications of the proposed Electoral Act changes.

Update - Wednesday 14 February 2018

ACNC Review

The Australian Government has announced a review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legislation.

The following short video update from Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy & Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert, outlines Philanthropy Australia's engagement with the review, which will include preparing a draft submission and seeking input and feedback from our Members.


If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or

Update - Wednesday 13 December 2017

The Australian Government made three announcements which impact upon philanthropy in the week of 4 December:

  • Setting out reform proposals for the Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) framework

  • The introduction to legislation to ban foreign donations, which will prevent international philanthropy funding advocacy activities by charities

  • The appointment of the Hon Dr Gary Johns as the new ACNC Commissioner

The following two short video updates from Philanthropy Australia's Advocacy & Insight Manager, Krystian Seibert, outline Philanthropy Australia's  response to these announcements - Members are encouraged to view them.

Deductible Gift Recipient Reform




Foreign Donations Ban and Appointment of ACNC Commissioner



If Members have any questions about this advocacy update, they should contact Krystian Seibert (03 9662 9299 or

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