Entity type

16 APR

Type of charity – legal structure

All charitable organisations who register with the ACNC will need to ensure their governing documents (for example, their rules, constitution, trust deed, rule book or articles of association) are correctly aligned to the charity’s legal structure, that meet the requirements in order to register with the ACNC.

Incorporated legal structures

There are several incorporated legal structures that your charity may have:

Incorporated associations: This is the most common legal structure for registered charities. The name will be something like ‘XYZ Incorporated’ or ‘XYZ Inc’.
Companies limited by guarantee: This is the second most common structure for registered charities. The name will be something like ‘XYZ Limited’ or “XYZ Ltd’.
Non-trading co-operatives: Co-operatives generally include the words ‘Cooperative’ and ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ in their name.
Indigenous corporations: Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are registered as corporations under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) (CATSI Act). These corporations are regulated by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). They usually have a name like ‘XYZ Aboriginal Corporation’.

Unincorporated legal structures

If your charity is not incorporated, it could be a trust (for example, ‘XYZ Fund’, or ‘XYZ Foundation’) or an unincorporated association (a less formal structure, with no separate legal identity).

Further information can be found on the ACNC website.


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Integrity, honesty and unbiased assessment are at the core of Giving Guide’s mission. The charity sector is important to the economy and culture of Australia, We believe independently assessing the accountability, transparency and effectiveness of the sector beyond what is currently available is important to it's future.

Giving Guide anticipates enhancing the level of governance and transparency in the Australian charity sector. An independent charity advisor would benefit the sector by helping charities consider exceeding the existing governance standards of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) to the benefit of donors.

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