Charities form one distinct subset of not-for-profits (NFPs), with their objectives being primarily of a charitable nature.

The legal meaning of charity includes:

  • the charitable purposes of relieving poverty, sickness or the needs of the aged
  • advancing education
  • advancing religion
  • advancing other purposes beneficial to the community, such as:
    • providing not-for-profit childcare services
    • advancing arts and culture
    • health
    • promoting animal welfare 
    • protecting the environment. 

An overwhelming majority of NFPs are not charities and they can exist for the exclusive benefit of members, or to serve a specific group of people, community or purpose. Examples include clubs formed for a social, recreational or sporting purpose, and professional and trade associations. 


Why audit when you can review? A question for charities and NFPs 

Medium charities are able to obtain a review instead of an audit and small charities are not obliged to have either. Nevertheless, many of those charities continue to obtain an audit, even though that is more onerous than a review and needs to be conducted by a registered company auditor. This podcast discusses whether charities should be encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for red-tape reduction and what impediments to the conduct of reviews need to be overcome.


Guide for not-for-profits: Resources to help you understand key reporting and assurance obligations (PDF), 2016

If you are an employee, volunteer or board member of an NFP organisation, including a charity, this guide outlines various CPA Australia and other online resources to help you understand some key reporting and assurance obligations under the Australian regulatory framework.

Charities: A guide to financial reporting and assurance requirements (PDF), 2013

This guide is intended to inform charities and their advisers on their financial reporting and assurance obligations under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and other associated legislation and regulations. It provides the key elements of regulation on financial reporting and assurance for charities, and provides an overview of the obligations of CPA Australia members in financial reporting and assurance. 

Library resources