ACNC makes annual reporting easier

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has announced several improvements to the 2017 Annual Information Statement (AIS) process. These include a new hub, re-designed guidance material and an enhanced online form.

It has also launched the 2017 AIS significantly earlier than last year.

‘Completing and submitting an AIS is a major part of registered charities’ ongoing obligation to report annually,’ says ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe.

‘In addition, the information gathered through the AIS process helps us cut red tape and helps contribute to a greater understanding of the sector.

‘We are pleased that we’ve been able to act on feedback from the sector, and from those who work with charities, to improve the 2017 process. We hope that all charities completing their AIS find it quicker and easier to do so, and are able to easily find support resources.’

The ACNC says the new AIS hub creates a one-stop shop for charities wishing to complete their reporting. It contains a comprehensive range of support and guidance materials.

The ACNC has completely re-designed the AIS guide. The 2017 document is broken up into shorter sections corresponding with the AIS form itself. New menus help charities navigate more easily around the online document.

There’s also expanded help text throughout the AIS, with nearly 50 direct links from the help text to relevant sections of the guide. This enhances a charity’s ability to cross-reference relevant guidance material — and minimise errors — as it completes its 2017 AIS.

The ACNC has also updated the AIS checklist, providing a reference point for the information and documents charities need to have handy before they start their AIS.

The charities regulator confirms that further additions to the hub are planned in the near future, including links to a fully updated suite of reporting guidance, as well as instructive how-to videos aimed at helping charities complete or learn more about specific sections of the 2017 AIS.

It adds that key improvements to the AIS include:

  • easier-to-understand questions, especially those related to charity finances, activities and beneficiaries
  • improved auto-filling and auto-calculation of responses to certain questions, allowing charities to quickly progress through sections of the AIS
  • the ability for charities to view and update their Responsible Persons as they complete their AIS, ensuring their organisations’ details are up-to-date
  • a new preview function, so charities can check over their responses to the AIS before submission
  • an improved layout, including a more prominent ‘Submit’ button to ensure charities don’t forget to submit their AIS after completion.

Pascoe says: ‘Ninety-two percent of charities have submitted their 2016 AIS on time, a significant increase on the 2015 figure. We hope that the improvements to the 2017 process will see that figure again rise.’

The first charities able to complete their 2017 AIS are those that report on a standard financial year — 1 July to 30 June.

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