If you’re running a charity, there are several things you need to think about when it comes to setting it all up. For example, what legal structure will you be choosing? How will you be registering your charity? Are you compliant with all the relevant laws? 

In this article, we’ll go through a Charity Charter – this is an important document that basically sets out how it will all be running. 

What Is A Charity Charter?

A Charity Charter is similar to a constitution for a company. For a charity, however, it’s a little bit different. 

A charity is a not-for-profit organisation, so the governing document needs to outline some key terms, including:

  • The charity’s charitable purpose
  • That the charity operates on a not-for-profit basis
  • Rules around how the board (or the people making the executive decisions) can run the charity and consult other people

What Is The Process For Creating A Charity Charter?

If you’re looking to have a charter created for your charity, you’ve come to the right place. It’s good business practice to have a lawyer assist you with the process as there are a number of legal requirements. 

For example, you want to make sure your charitable purpose is worded correctly and appropriately (this is something that our lawyers at Sprintlaw can help with!). 

The process looks something like this:

1. Provide The Document To The Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC)

Once your first draft is complete, you’ll need to provide this document to the ACNC. They will go over the draft and check whether it would be eligible for registration. 

2. Make Sure It Is Visible On The Charity Register

Once your document is registered with the ACNC, it should be available on the public Charity Register

This ensures transparency with the public about how your charity runs and whether you are meeting your charitable purpose. However, your Charter should not include personal information when uploaded to the Register. This includes addresses or numbers of members. 

This way, you can protect their privacy

What If I Don’t Want To Make My Charity Charter Public?

In certain cases, you may be able to make a request for your Charter to be withheld from the public register. You can do this by accessing ACNC’s Charity Portal

However, this request can only be granted if certain reasons or exceptions apply. The ACNC will have to consider things like:

  • Does the publication endanger public safety?
  • Is the information sensitive so as to cause harm to the charity or a person?
  • Is the information inaccurate or likely to mislead?
  • Is the information offensive? 

What If I Want To Make Changes To My Charity Charter?

If you want to update or make any change to your Charter, you need to notify the ACNC with an updated version of the document by accessing the portal. 

However, things might get a little complicated if you want to make significant changes to your document. For example, bigger changes might affect whether you are still eligible to be registered as a charity (this could even result in your charity being disqualified). 

To avoid this, your best bet is to seek legal help for any changes you want to make to your Charity Charter before notifying the ACNC. 

Other Requirements For A Charity

Setting up a charity requires close consideration and discussion about structure, registration, governing documents and your charitable purpose. 

Generally speaking, charities and their charitable purpose are quite political in nature, so there are a number of ways that a charity could be disqualified.

For example, if your charity’s charitable purpose is against public policy, these are grounds for disqualification. 

Need A Charity Charter?

If you’re looking to have a Charity Charter drafted, it’s important that you are compliant with the relevant laws. You want to make sure your charitable purpose is carefully worded, and is not a disqualifying purpose. 

It’s a good idea to get a lawyer to help you out with this. The process can get complex depending on the nature of your charity, so Sprintlaw’s expert lawyers can ensure that your Charity Charter is tailored to your business’ needs. 

You can reach out to us for a free, no-obligations chat at team@sprintlaw.com.au or 1800 730 617.

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