Registering not for profit or charitable organisations

There are different ways you can register as a charitable or not-for-profit organisation. Before you register, you should consider what structure best suits your organisation's purposes.

Registering as a company

Charitable and not-for-profit organisations can be registered as public companies limited by guarantee. This means the liability of the company’s members is limited. The limit is usually the amount members will contribute to the property of the company if it is wound up.

Registration of a company creates a legal entity separate from its members. This means the company can hold property and sue or be sued.

A public company must:

  • have at least three directors and one secretary
  • have at least one member
  • have a registered office address and principal place of business located in Australia
  • have its registered office open and accessible to the public
  • be governed by a constitution
  • maintain a register of its members
  • keep a record of all directors’ and members, meeting minutes and resolutions
  • appoint a registered company auditor within one month of its registration
  • keep proper financial records
  • lodge audited financial statements and reports after the end of every financial year.
  • send its members a copy of its financial statements and reports. This does not apply to some companies limited by guarantee
  • hold an annual general meeting once a year. The meeting must be within five months of the end of financial year.
  • receive and review an annual company statement and pay an annual review fee. Some charitable and not for profit organisations are eligible for reduced fees
  • tell us when their details change and lodge any documents within the required timeframe.

Registering as an incorporated association

An incorporated association is also a legal entity separate from its members. Associations can be more effective for small community organisations. They are generally simpler and more affordable than a company structure.

Associations are registered under state and territory legislation, which is not administered by ASIC. Associations can only carry on business in the state they're registered in. For example, if registered in Victoria, they can only conduct business in Victoria. If they want to trade in other states, they need to become a registrable Australian body.

Learn more about becoming a registrable Australian body

Association legislation changes from state to state, but requirements can include:

  • having a committee that manages the association
  • having a public officer
  • having a registered office in its state of incorporation
  • acting under all the rules of legislation
  • holding an annual general meeting once a year
  • lodging an annual statement every year
  • keeping proper accounting records
  • keeping minutes of all committee and general meetings
  • having registers of members and all committee members
  • having a common seal.

For more information about incorporating an association, visit the relevant website below:

State/territory

Authority

Web address

Australian Capital Territory

Access Canberra

www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au

New South Wales

Office of Fair Trading

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/business/associations.html

Northern Territory

Consumer and Business Affairs

www.justice.nt.gov.au

Queensland

Office of Fair Trading

www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au

South Australia

Consumer and Business Services

http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/

Tasmania

Office of Consumer Affairs & Fair Trading

www.consumer.tas.gov.au

Victoria

Consumer Affairs

www.consumer.vic.gov.au

Western Australia

Consumer and Employment Protection

www.docep.wa.gov.au


Creating a registered Australian body

You can register an incorporated association as an Australian registered body. This allows you to carry on business in other states and territories.

For more details about creating an Australian registered body, see registrable Australian bodies.

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Last updated: 07/11/2016 09:09