Emil Ford Lawyers

The ACNC's take on giving gifts

In late 2018, the ACNC released  updated guidance on how and when charities can provide gifts or honorariums to individuals. While gifts and honorariums can be used occasionally to recognise the service of a committed board member, employee or volunteer, charities and not-for-profits must be extremely cautious in their approach to giving out gifts and honorariums.

We remind charities that your key responsibility is to further your charitable purpose. With that in mind, see below ten key points that charities and not-for-profits should consider.

  1. A gift or honorarium can take the form of money, goods or other property.
  2. Your governing rules might explicitly allow or prohibit the giving of a gift or honorarium. The governing rules must be consulted before any gift or honorarium is made.
  3. Gifts or honorariums must be in the best interest of your charity. If a benefit is conferred on a board member, staff or volunteer, an actual beneficiary of your charity might be missing out on valuable support. 
  4. You should strongly consider how the gift or honorarium might be perceived by your donors and members.
  5. Any gifts or honorariums must be of a token nature. The gift or honorarium should not be a regular occurrence, nor should it provide the individual with a significant personal benefit.
  6. If given, a gift or honorarium must be ‘reasonable’. What is reasonable will vary from charity to charity.
  7. A gift or honorarium must not place your charity at risk of breaching any of your obligations to the ACNC.
  8. Providing a gift or honorarium to your charity’s board members or their relatives raises a conflict of interest issue. This does not necessarily mean the gift or honorarium is prohibited. However, the failure to disclose the conflict of interest may be a breach of the ACNC Governance Standards.
  9. A gift or honorarium is not a substitute for remunerating a board member or employee.
  10. A gift or honorarium may need to be disclosed in your charity’s financial statements.

Charities must always err on the side of caution when gifting money, goods or property to individuals other than their beneficiaries. If charities choose to allow gifts and honorariums to be made, they should have a clear and formal policy which sets out the steps that must be taken before one is granted. If you have any questions about making gifts, honorariums or other payments to your charity’s board members, employees or volunteers, please contact , or for advice. 

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