Passion. Care. A genuine love for animals. These three ingredients are the catalysts for setting up a rescue group. However, as your group grows, creating a legal entity becomes not only advantageous, but a necessity. We’ve put together a simple chart to help guide you through the steps you’ll need to take to establish your group as a legal entity.
Firstly, let’s cover why it’s important to establish your rescue group as a legal entity. A couple of major benefits are allowing you to accept donations from the public, as well as protecting you and your group financially. In summary, it’ll allow you to:
- legally solicit donations through fundraising to support your activities
- give individuals or organisations that donate money to your group the opportunity to claim a tax deduction for their donation (DGR)
- mitigate against personal financial or legal risk
- meet your legal tax obligations
- legitimise your organisation in the eyes of the public and supporters
- plan for the future.
Although it may seem complex at first glance, understand that this is a step-by-step process - it doesn’t have to be all done at once. It’s also not a requirement of PetRescue members (right now), but we recommend that you consider these points as your group develops into a larger, more accountable organisation.
Naturally, this process requires you to take on some legal obligations - we've broken it down into little bite-size chunks below;
1. Register for an Australian Business Number (ABN)
Applying for an ABN is the first step to becoming a fully-fledged rescue business. To find out why, read more here: Australian Business Register - Applying for an ABN.
2. Take out public liability insurance
Claims of personal injury or property damage can be incredibly expensive. Even if you’re not at fault, you may still incur considerable legal costs defending yourself.
Public liability insurance covers your rescue group while attending adoption events. It covers your staff, foster carers, volunteers and property in the case of grievances against third parties. Read more on the importance of PLI cover here.
It’s important to note that you must have an ABN prior to seeking PLI cover for your rescue group.
3. Register for Goods Service Tax (GST) if required
Goods and services tax (GST) is a broad based tax of 10% on the sale of most goods and services consumed in Australia.
Your non-profit organisation must register for GST if your GST turnover is $150,000 or more and you may choose to register if your GST annual turnover is lower. Read more about GST here.
4. Seek endorsement to access tax concessions from the ATO.
The ATO has a range of concessions available to not-for-profit organisations. To find out if you qualify, read this: Tax basics for not-for-profit organisations.
5. Seek ATO endorsement as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR)
A deductible gift recipient (DGR) is an organisation that is authorised to receive income tax deductible gifts and deductible contributions. As a rescue group, you may be eligible. Read more here: The endorsement process for deductible gift recipients.
6. Register as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)
Registering as a charity with the ACNC may also provide your group with a raft of benefits. Click here to read more - register my charity.
7. Obtain a license to fundraise
In order to conduct any fundraising, or accept donations, you must obtain a fundraising licence. Find out more here: Getting your approvals in place.
It all might seem a little daunting, but trust us - getting professional assistance will help you navigate any complications your group may encounter in the future.
If you prefer not to embark on this by yourself, try putting a call out on Facebook to see if anyone in your immediate group of friends or vollies is a solicitor, accountant or tax agent, or if they can recommend someone to assist you.
[Disclaimer: this information should not replace professional advice you receive from a solicitor, accountant or registered tax agent. You should inform yourself of your legal obligations through additional sources, as this information is intended only to be an introductory summary]