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Unlocking Non-Profit Status in Australia

Updated: Apr 26, 2023



Many people mistakenly believe that simply registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and not charging money for services automatically qualifies them as a non-profit organisation. However, that's not the case. Here are the steps you need to take to establish non-profit status for your organisation in Australia.


This is important information, mainly because the correct status qualifies you for the right grants and subsidies.

Not all non-profit organisations need to be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Here are the fundamental steps:

  • To establish non-profit status, choose a legal structure that aligns with your organisation's goals and needs, such as an incorporated association, a company limited by guarantee, or a charitable trust,

  • A business name, also called a trading name, is used by an individual or legal entity for their business. You need to register a business name if you operate a company (Pty Ltd) and want to trade under a different name or if you conduct business using a name other than your own.

  • Develop a constitution that outlines your organisation's purpose, structure, and governance, which serves as a guiding compass, along with other required documents based on your chosen structure.

  • Appoint office bearers, such as a president, treasurer, and secretary, who play key roles in your organisation's governance.

  • Apply for registration with the appropriate government authority, such as the relevant state or territory government department or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

  • Seek professional advice from lawyers, accountants, or other experts throughout the process.

Here is a helpful resource.

It is crucial to follow the proper steps to register your organisation to be eligible for grants and operate in compliance with the law.


If you need more clarification, please seek professional guidance and understand the legal requirements to ensure your non-profit organisation is established correctly.



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