This guide is for people who are, or are thinking of becoming, board members of a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
We have used the term ‘board members’ to mean members of the governing body of a charity – the people ultimately responsible for overseeing its operations and making sure it is working towards achieving its charitable purpose. In your organisation they may be the directors of the board, members of the management committee, the governors or the trustees.
Note: In the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act), these people are described as ‘responsible entities’. In our guidance we generally use the term ‘Responsible Persons’because it is more meaningful and easier to remember. However, for this guide we have used the term ‘board members’.
Why should I read this?
Being a board member of a charity can be a very positive experience. It can give you the opportunity to make a real difference in your community, but it also comes with responsibilities. For you and your charity to succeed, you should be aware of your responsibilities and your role in helping your charity achieve its goals.
Our focus is to support charities to meet the ACNC’s Governance Standards, but we also work to support good governance beyond these standards.
This guide focuses on good governance and how it helps charities in the context of their obligations. We have highlighted when something is a legal obligation, rather than being optional or suggested.
Whether you are taking up the responsibilities of a board member for the first time or you are an experienced board member looking for a refresher, there is always something you can do to improve your knowledge and the governance of your charity.