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How to run the organisation

Find out what’s involved in governing your not-for-profit organisation in compliance with the law, from setting up your rules to holding meetings.

Content last updated 20/06/2024

Documents, records and requests for access

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All community organisations need to keep documents and records. The requirements of your organisation to keep certain documents and records may be set out in:

  • your organisation's rules, policies or resolutions
  • funding agreements and other contracts, or
  • legislation

Sometimes, these requirements depend on your legal structure or the state or territory where your organisation is incorporated.

There are many sources of record keeping obligations, and this resource outlines only some of these.

For example, there are also record-keeping requirements that relate to:

  • various tax concessions, fundraising licences or permits
  • running trade promotions and raffles
  • managing employees and members
  • health records, and
  • disputes

These other kinds of record-keeping requirements are not considered here, but are covered in our webpages on these topics.

More information  

Our Community has developed a resource on email retention and archiving policy. 

Responding to requests for information

From time to time, your organisation will receive requests for information. Common requests include:

  • clients or service users seeking to access information held about them
  • documents sought as part of a court proceeding - sometimes called 'discovery'
  • documents sought through a subpoena
  • information sought using Freedom of Information provisions (where services are linked to government), and
  • members seeking access to the documents of your organisation, such as meeting minutes or financial records

Often requests for information raise a lot of issues for organisations.

It can be hard to know what, if any, information the organisation:

  • is required by law to disclose
  • can choose under law to disclose, and
  • must not disclose

Information, documents and records often contain a mix of types of information. This means that parts of a document may need to be provided.

When your organisation receives requests for information from clients or members or in relation to court proceedings, your organisation should seek legal advice as early as possible about what information your organisation must or can provide.

Record keeping for charities

Charities registered with the ACNC have particular record keeping requirements. Depending on the state or territory of incorporation, incorporated associations, also have record keeping requirements under state and territory laws.

Our fact sheet outlines information on record keeping for charities relating to:

  • the record-keeping requirements that apply to charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
  • the record-keeping provisions that apply to certain companies under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)
  • who can inspect these records, and
  • general information about good record-keeping practices
Record keeping for charities

Record keeping for incorporated associations

Documents, records and registers are key assets of an incorporated association. They should be kept up-to-date and stored securely by the management committee and other officers of the incorporated association.

Our fact sheets cover an overview of obligations that apply to incorporated associations under the state-based regulatory framework.

Select the state or territory where your organisation is based and download the relevant fact sheet:

The content on this webpage was last updated in October 2022 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.

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