What has changed?
The ACNC Governance Standards deal with how your charity is run (including processes, activities and relationships) and these have applied to all ACNC registered charities since July 2013. The Governance Standards are principle-based, and it is the responsibility of the charity to decide how it will meet these standards based on its size, complexity and the nature of its operations. (Read more on the ACNC Governance Standards)
For a typical ACNC registered, Australian church, there has never been any additional regulations, standards or restrictions around how they approach operating their overseas activities. Those churches with a tax-deductible charitable arm may have faced some additional requirements.
The introduction of the external conduct standards in July 2019 has meant that for the first time, churches are now faced with reviewing their overseas missions program in the light of a set of external standards.
Do these new standards apply to your church?
These standards apply to every registered charity that is operating outside Australia, or working with a third party operating outside Australia, no matter how small. These operations could include:
- sending money or other resources overseas;
- sending staff, volunteers, members or beneficiaries overseas;
- conducting activities or working overseas;
- buying goods and services from overseas suppliers (including online purchases); or
- working with individuals or organisations located overseas.
So, if your church is ACNC registered and has an overseas missions program, then you will almost certainly be required to comply with the new External Conduct Standards.
So what are these new standards?
Standard 1: Activities and control of resources (including funds). This covers the way a charity manages its activities overseas, and how it controls the finances, people and resources it uses in relation to these overseas activities.
Standard 2: Annual review of overseas activities and record-keeping. This covers the need to keep sufficiently detailed records for its overseas activities.
Standard 3: Anti-fraud and anti-corruption. This covers having appropriate processes and procedures in place to address the risks of fraud and corruption in its overseas operations.
Standard 4: Protection of vulnerable individuals. This covers the requirement for a charity to protect the vulnerable people that it works with when conducting its overseas operations.