Author: Kate Sunners
As part of Queensland Community Foundation’s Philanthropy Week, Queensland Community Foundation and BDO Australia hosted ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns to talk about the ACNC’s data, what it says now, and what insights the Commissioner would like to provide in future.
Dr Johns spends a little time every day in the ACNC’s charity records, which contains over 56,000 charities and where eight new charities are registered every working day. From all the numerous records he’s looked through however, the key data that isn’t being recorded is the purpose of the charity, whom they serve and where they provide services; or to put it simply ‘What NFP’s do.’ This is something he’d like to change during his term as Commissioner, and is working on putting in place a taxonomy of charitable purposes.
He sat down recently with a large organisation running over 400 separate programs, which he could not find information on in their reports to the ACNC, and asked them to break their programs down into beneficiaries, purpose and location. His hope is that by moving to collecting this kind of data, the ACNC database will become a useful tool for donors to visit and search by their own interest areas, by purpose, by beneficiary, and by place. Interestingly, this would allow small charities just as much chance of being seen as large charities.
The 5-year review of the ACNC is on the Minister’s desk, ready to be tabled with Parliament in August. Dr Johns was able to share that he doesn’t think there will be any big changes, except perhaps for a change he himself is advocating for, which will remove the secrecy provisions which prevent the Commissioner from explaining why a charity is taken off the register after an investigation, to mirror practice in the UK and other European countries.