Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Revamping the ACNC website and what it means for your organisation

Bianca BNE  Author: Bianca Williams

Earlier this week, I attended the ACNC Information Seminar in Brisbane to learn of the new and improved ACNC website to be launched in 2020  and to be honest, it’s going to be of immense benefit to many organisations across the country.

A key goal of ACNC Commissioner, Dr Gary Johns, is to create greater visibility and accessibility for donors to the marketplace of charity organisations. To achieve this, Dr Johns has been conducting research into how to improve the ACNC website for the donor, and how to better communicate the program areas of individual charities.

Three key actions ACNC will undertake to improve donor engagement

  1. New website software will be introduced in 2020 that will enable donors to search for charities based on their programs rather than by name. Each nonprofit will be categorised based on their programs, beneficiaries and geographic areas of program delivery.

        So, if Mrs Brown (donor) wants to donate to an animal refuge in her local community, she will be able to jump onto the ACNC website, search for the ‘program type’ and select a geographic area – the site will then produce a list of relevant organisations.

  1. Provide a common language to donors and charities so they can measure ‘apples with apples’. To enable donors to compare financial results or program outcomes between different organisations.
  1. Work out a system whereby sector-wide statistics can be measured and the results reported progressively and published by the ACNC annually. New data such as the lifespan of charities will be available, including how long a charity has been in operation, mergers with other charities etc

How does this impact your organisation?

Get your finance AND marketing team ready, because both will be needed to complete the 2020 Annual Information Statement (AIS).

The new AIS form will include additional questions that will inform the ACNC of how to categorise your organisation using charitable definitions taxonomy. The questions will not be mandatory, however if charities WANT to be found on the ACNC they should provide as much information as possible. New sections on the AIS statement questions will include; program level details and online details (website / social media).

Benefits to organisations

The new ACNC website will be of great benefit – particularly to the 65% of ACNC registered charities who have less than $250,000 annual revenue – as it will provide an additional online platform to communicate your organisation’s mission, and program areas with donors – and even more so if your organisation does not have an online presence.

For larger organisations with multiple programs, perhaps too many to register individually with ACNC, Dr Johns noted they would not receive as much benefit but are more likely to have a greater presence in the marketplace via their own website and social media channels.  

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Challenges to organisations

During the seminar, concerns were raised that prospective donors might merely compare the financial performance of nonprofits as a means of deciding which organisation to donate to, rather than also looking at how much social impact an organisation achieves. Attendees asked how could organisations provide information on what they have achieved in the community, to complement the financial reporting provided on the ACNC website?

Dr Johns responded that a ‘free script’ question will be provided on the AIS statement but essentially, the ACNC should be used to commission (regulate) individual organisations and their financials – if a donor wants to look further into a particular organisation they should do so via the organisations’ website and/or annual report etc.

Some interesting 2017 AIS data

Total revenue of $146 Billion in the sector

$10 Billion donated through donations and bequests

Government funds increase by $7 Billion ($61B to $68 Billion)

Charity registrations grow 4% per annum (40 per week) – there will be a spike in 2020 as ALL DGR Status entities must become a charity (projections = 57,000 charities in 2019 / 65,000 charities by 2020)

For more interesting data, check out the Australian Charities Report 2017