So, you are thinking about setting up a new community group, organisation, charity, club, association, social enterprise, co-operative, or some other kind of not-for-profit group in Victoria? Congratulations!
The not-for-profit sector is a great field to work in. The sector makes a significant contribution to the economy, but even more importantly, to our democratic political process and the communities in which not-for-profits operate.
In Victoria we have over 120,000 not-for-profit community organisations (we will use the term 'community organisation' throughout the site to describe all not-for-profit groups).
You might want to start by investigating other organisations operating in your local area - there may already be one working in your area of interest, which you can join.
The legal issues the not-for-profit sector faces are unique
If you (and your group) have decided to start up a new not-for-profit organisation, one of the key factors that will determine the success and longevity of your organisation is thinking about the legal issues right from the start. And the legal issues faced by the not-for-profit sector are unique!
For example, when forming your community organisation you can decide what sort of legal structure it will have (whether 'incorporated' or not), and draft a set of rules (or 'constitution') to govern the operation of your organisation. These have a crucial impact on some future legal issues for your organisation (for example, whether your organisation can operate outside of Victoria or whether it will be eligible for tax concessions).
Getting these issues right at the start will save considerable time, money, administrative headaches and possible legal difficulties for your organisation down the track.
This 'Getting started' section is broken into the following sections:
Fact sheets and checklists help you answer:
This page helps your group decide whether incorporating is the right approach.
Once your group has decided it wants to incorporate, it needs to consider all the options.
This page explains:
- the steps to take to become incorporated for the different legal structures
- how to register a business name, and
how to apply for an ABN.
This page covers insurance and indemnities that new groups should consider.
Many not-for-profits are eligible for charitable tax concessions. You should consider your organisation's tax status when you are setting up your organisation because you might need to include wording in your rules allow you to apply for tax concessions or endorsements. The way you set up your organisation (eg, defining who will be a member) may also impact on your tax liability.
Fundraising Trusts and Grant Making Foundations
If you are interested in setting up a fundraising trust entity or grant making foundation, our fact sheet below may assist you in considering whether this is the right approach for you, and includes links to further resources. It is important to understand a trust or a foundation is not the same as a not-for-profit organisation.