It is easy to lose track of all the inquiries that bear on non-profit law and regulation established by the incoming federal government some 18 months ago.

Ahead of the 2022 Federal Election, Andrew Leigh, the now Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, made an election commitment to support:

  • a Blueprint to provide a roadmap for government reforms and sector‑led initiatives to boost the sector’s capacity to support and reconnect Australian communities; and
  • a review of philanthropy to understand trends in philanthropic giving in Australia, the underlying drivers of these trends, and to identify opportunities and obstacles to increasing such giving. The Productivity Commission has been tasked with delivering an inquiry into philanthropy by May 2024 with a draft report due before the end of 2023.

The 2022–23 October budget provided for the development of the Not-for-Profit (NFP) Sector Development Blueprint (Blueprint) and doubling philanthropic giving by 2030 by measures to be developed consequent upon the Productivity Commission Inquiry.

Blueprint

The Blueprint Expert Reference Group (BERG) was established in December 2022 under the auspice of the Department of Social Services.

The NFP Blueprint is intended to be a visionary document to ensure the NFP and charity sector is ‘future ready’ and to enable the sector to set its own direction to support Australians in need now and in the future.

The BERG has released an issues paper that is seeking submissions until 20 December 2023.

The 48-page issues paper is divided into 8 sections being:

  • Measurement, Outcomes and Quality of Services,
  • Policy, Advocacy, Communications and Engagement,
  • Philanthropy and Volunteering,
  • Governance, Organisation and Legal Environment,
  • Leadership and Staff Development,
  • Government Funding, Contracting and Tendering,
  • IT, Communication and Marketing, and
  • Leveraging Assets and Social Finance.

BERG is tasked to deliver:

  • an issues paper to map out priority areas for reform and
  • a Sector Development Blueprint as a grounded plan for action to enhance the sector’s effectiveness, to Government. This will include a final report on findings and consultation.

Productivity Commission Review of Philanthropy

The Productivity Commission is no stranger to inquiries into the non-profit sector, providing reports in 1995 and 2010.

This inquiry aims to understand trends in philanthropic giving in Australia, the underlying drivers of these trends, and to identify opportunities and obstacles to increasing such giving. The inquiry is directed to make recommendations to the Government to address barriers to giving and harness opportunities to grow it further.

The Commission called for submissions in March 2023 with a brief information paper that has attracted over 270 submissions and 70 comments.

The Commission has conducted extensive consultation through meetings and webinars across Australia.

There are over 80 submissions from young, passionate individuals concerned for animal welfare or the prevention of nuclear war and the ability to access public benevolent institution (PBI) status.

The future of PBI status was a significant theme of submissions, as well as a variety of suggestions for taxation concessions to encourage philanthropy.

A draft report is proposed to be available for comment in the coming months.

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