Policy Matters

Policy Matters is Philanthropy Australia's policy and advocacy news hub, providing up to date and useful information for our Members on policy developments relevant to their activities. It includes policy and regulatory updates, information about policy submissions Philanthropy Australia is preparing or has recently completed, as well as useful fact sheets and other resources.

Are you a Philanthropy Australia Member? For more detailed policy updates, click here..

If Members have any questions about Policy Matters content, they can contact Philanthropy Australia’s Policy & Research Manager, Krystian Seibert (kseibert@philanthropy.org.au or 03 9662 9299).


Australian Government Discussion Paper - Social Impact Investing

Monday 30 January 2017

The Australian Government has released a Discussion Paper exploring ways to facilitate the growth of the Australian social impact investing market.

This Discussion Paper seeks views on a whole of government position on social impact investing including:

  • The potential role of the Commonwealth Government in the social impact investing market;
  • Principles for social impact investing to guide Commonwealth Government involvement in the social impact investing market; and
  • Possible Commonwealth regulatory barriers to the growth of the market.

The discussion paper addresses the introduction of a Program Related Investments (PRI) framework, which has been proposed by Philanthropy Australia, and also outlines some policy changes which have already been made in response to Philanthropy Australia's advocacy.

Philanthropy Australia is making submission in response to the Discussion Paper, and the draft submission is currently available for Members to view through the Member Portal.

Members may also wish to make their own submission in response to the Discussion Paper, and/or to endorse Philanthropy Australia's submission.

The Discussion Paper and more information about the consultation process can be accessed here.

ACNC 2016 Annual Information Statement Due Dates

Monday 16 January 2017

All registered charities, including those which are philanthropic entities such as charitable trusts and private and public ancillary funds, must submit an Annual Information Statement (AIS) to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Depending on their size, some philanthropic entities may also need to submit a financial report.

More information about the 2016 AIS, its contents and due date can be accessed by Philanthropy Australia Members in the Portal.


Amendments to the Private and Public Ancillary Fund Guidelines

Friday 6 May 2016

The Australian Government has made amendments to the Private Ancillary Fund Guidelines 2009 and the Public Ancillary Fund Guidelines 2011.

The amendments can be accessed here, and the Assistant Treasurer's media release can be accessed here.

The updated and consolidated Private Ancillary Fund Guidelines 2009 are available here, and the updated and consolidated Public Ancillary Fund Guidelines 2011 are available here.

Many of the amendments are a direct result of advocacy by Philanthropy Australia.

For example, the introduction of portability into the Private Ancillary Fund Guidelines 2009, allowing ancillary funds to provide loan guarantees over borrowings of deductible gift recipients and providing further guidance on calculating the minimum annual distribution in relation to impact investments are all recommendations contained in Philanthropy Australia's 'Early Wins to Grow Philanthropy and its Impact' submission to the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership. Philanthropy Australia acknowledges the Partnership's support for these changes and believes that the revised Guidelines are a tangible outcome of the Partnership.

A number of changes were also made to the original exposure draft of the amendments, which was consulted on earlier this year, as a result of the advocacy of Philanthropy Australia (our submission in response to the exposure draft can be accessed here) and other stakeholders.

Most notably, the exposure draft proposed amending the method for calculating the minimum annual distribution rate, which would have had the effect of lowering the rate significantly for the foreseable future. This proposal has not been proceeded with, but rather the Commissioner of Taxation has been given the power to lower the minimum annual distribution of an individual ancillary fund in appropriate circumstances and upon application by the ancillary fund. This is a welcome change from the exposure draft, which Philanthropy Australia supports as it keeps things simple and helps ensure we have a relatively stable flow of philanthropic funds into the community, but at the same time allows for some flexibility where ancillary funds experience exceptional circumstances. 

Members can access more detail information about the amendments in the Policy Matters Member area.

Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership 2015 Annual Report

Friday 6 May 2016

The Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership recently released its 2015 annual report, which details the work undertaken by the Partnership since its inception in the second half of 2014. This work includes extensive engagement and consultation with philanthropic and not-for-profit sector representatives, the commissioning of major research projects such as Giving Australia 2016, and the commencement of initiatives such as Community and Philanthropy Partnerships Week.

The annual report, as well as a video about the Partnerships work so far, can be accessed here.

Philanthropy Australia has been collaborating very closely with the Partnership, to feed into its work in order to facillitate positive outcomes which will lead to more and better philanthropy. This has included:

  • Making an initial 'Early Wins to Grow Philanthropy and its Impact' submission in November 2014 - which has already led to a number of changes being made to the Private and Public Ancillary Fund Guidelines in particular (as discussed above)
  • Participation in numerous consultation forums and workshops and direct engagement with Partnership members
  • Undertaking research projects to inform the Partnership's work - such as 'Program Related Investments - An Opportunity for Australia'
  • Supporting research projects such as Giving Australia 2016, for which we are a sector partner
  • Managing Community and Philanthropy Partnerships Week, in partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

Philanthropy Australia strongly supports the work of the Partnership, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Partnership and the Government to achieve positive outcomes which will lead to more and better philanthropy.

Australian Taxation Office Updates 'In Australia' Guidance for Deductible Gift Recipients

Friday 6 May 2016

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has updated its 'In Australia' Guidance for Deductible Gift Recipients (DGR).

The ‘in Australia’ condition requires all DGRs to be in Australia. This means all DGRs must be established and operated in Australia. The purposes and beneficiaries of a DGR do not have to be in Australia, unless the DGR is a public fund that is specifically required by law to have its purposes and beneficiaries in Australia, such as a necessitous circumstances fund.

Previously, the ATO took the view that not only did all DGRs have to be established and operated in Australia, but their purposes and beneficiaries of a DGR had to be in Australia (with some notable exceptions such as overseas aid funds).

Philanthropy Australia is very supportive of this change in view, as it is another step towards improving the environment for international philanthropy in Australia, which is an area where Philanthropy Australia has been advocating for change.

Members can access further information about this change in the Policy Matters Member area.

Department of Social Services Releases Report on Program Related Investments

Friday 22 January 2016

In the second half of 2015, the Department of Social Services commissioned Philanthropy Australia to undertake a project to examine how a Program Related Investments (PRIs) framework could operate in Australia.

The purpose of the research was to inform the work of the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership and assist it to prepare advice to the Australian Government on ways to grow philanthropy and its impact.

PRIs involve investments made by foundations to further their charitable purposes, with the explicit understanding that those investments will earn below-market returns. Although a PRI is not a grant, it counts toward a foundation’s minimum distribution requirement in the year a disbursement is made. Once repaid, the funds used for a PRI are recycled by making new grants or PRIs.

They are a tool available to US foundations but not Australian foundations, at this stage.

The project involved two facilitated workshops with representatives of trusts and foundations in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as consultation with other stakeholders and experts in both Australia and the US. The purpose of these workshops and consultations was to assess demand for the introduction of a PRI framework in Australia.

The Department of Social Services has now released the project's final report, which recommends the introduction of a PRI framework in Australia.

The report can be accessed here.

Philanthropy Australia will keep Members informed of progress implementing the report's recommendations.

Vision is for a more giving Australia…

Sarah Davies (CEO) launched Philanthropy Australia's Strategic Plan 2017 - 2020 at our 2016 Conference.