The ‘Red Tape Monster’ strikes again

The ‘Red Tape Monster’ strikes again

This morning I went to a consultation put on by the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC) about the new regulatory framework that is being proposed for charities.  The room was full of interested parties.

I won’t go into great detail on the proposed changes – you can find out more here.  In a very brief nutshell, the commission aims to consolidate and simplify much of the regulation for the charities sector from July 2012, and then potentially extend it to the not-for-profit sector from 2014.  Most smaller not-for-profits, even those with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status, will therefore be unaffected for the foreseeable future.

What struck me at the session was a comment from one gentleman about making certain that volunteers were somehow protected from the onerous compliance burden of ‘improvements’, for example on reporting or various applications.  The comment was the only one to draw a wholehearted round of applause from the audience.

He further went on to add that it is the burden of paperwork and compliance that can make it so difficult to attract volunteers into office-bearing positions.

At a grassroots level, what can be done to address this problem?

First, regulators need to look at ways to minimise this burden, and assist volunteers to easily see their way through their obligations.

Another way is for committees to share the burden.  Split the jobs amongst many and support each other.  Leave a trail so that the next person doing the same ‘gig’ has the benefit of your experience.

Going further, you can seek help from your peak body (should you have one) or buddy up with similar groups in your area to nut your way through the maze of red tape.

Short of this, it is often left to extremely dedicated volunteers to skill themselves up through their own efforts, and singlehandedly take on the ‘red tape monster’.