The term ‘charity’ on this page refers to registered entities under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012. Charities that incur expenditure (at or above the disclosure threshold) to influence voters in a federal election are subject to the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act). This type of expenditure can create an obligation to register and report to the AEC.
Electoral matter means matter communicated or intended to be communicated for the dominant purpose of influencing the way electors vote in a federal election.
Electoral expenditure means expenditure incurred for the dominant purpose of creating or communicating electoral matter.
There are exceptions for certain activities. You can find out more about electoral expenditure and electoral matter, and some useful examples, in the AEC Electoral matter and electoral expenditure factsheet.
A charity incurring electoral expenditure under the value of the disclosure threshold does not need to provide a disclosure return to the AEC, nor register with the AEC.
Where charities incur expenditure above the disclosure threshold in a financial year for the purpose of influencing the way electors vote in an election, they are subject to the requirements of the Electoral Act. Charities are required to disclose domestic donations to the AEC for the amount or value equal to or above the disclosure threshold, which are then used:
Where a charity incurs electoral expenditure over the disclosure threshold in a financial year, but below the amount that would require it to be registered as a ‘political campaigner’ (see below), it will have the obligations of a ‘third party’ to:
Learn more about third party electoral expenditure and disclosure.
Registration as a political campaigner is required when:
Where a charity meets the definition of a political campaigner, it will have the obligations of a political campaigner to:
The annual return for a political campaigner must ordinarily disclose details of all amounts received, whether they are donations or other receipts, that are more than the disclosure threshold. A charity that is a political campaigner, however, does not need to disclose details of an amount received if no part of that amount was used during the financial year to:
Learn more about political campaigners.
There are restrictions on the receipt and/or use of foreign donations by third parties and political campaigners:
Learn more about foreign donations in the AEC foreign donations factsheet.