Not for Profit and Churches

nfp icon matthew 65 Dr Matthew Turnour, Chairman
nfp icon mark 65 Mark Fowler, Director
nfp icon thumb 65 Starting a Charity, Social Enterprise or Other Not-for-profit Organisation
nfp icon arrow 65 Your Constitution and Purposes
nfp icon spanner 65 Managing Your Organisation
nfp icon acnc 65 The ACNC, ASIC and ATO: Registrations and Compliance
nfp icon tick 65 Reporting
nfp icon dollar 65 Taxation Concessions and Exemptions
nfp icon gift 65 Gifts, Donations, Fundraising and Bequests
nfp icon approved 65 Government Grants and Funding Contracts
nfp icon hands 65 Employment, Volunteers and Discrimination Law
nfp icon directors 65 Your Board, Trustees and Responsible Persons
nfp icon date 65 Meetings
nfp icon dispute 65 Dispute Resolution, External and Internal Conflicts
nfp icon hazard 65 Risk Management and Insurance
nfp icon shake 65 Joint Ventures, Mergers, Amalgamations, Partnerships and Auspicing
nfp icon registered 65 Trademarks, Social Media and Advertising
nfp icon house 65 Property and Commercial
nfp icon pen 65 Submissions to State and Federal Governments
nfp icon u turn 65 Changing or Ending Your Organisation
nfp icon smile 65 Our Experience and Clients
nfp icon phone 65 Contact Us


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Dr Matthew Turnour, Chairman

Our not-for-profit and charity law team in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is led by Dr Matthew Turnour, the Chairman and head of the Corporate and Commercial Law Division of Neumann & Turnour Lawyers. Matthew is Chair of the Queensland Law Society’s Not-for-profit Sector Committee, a Director of the Australian Charity Law Association, and a member of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s Professional User Group. His PhD thesis, entitled Beyond Charity: Outlines of a Jurisprudence for Civil Society was awarded Outstanding Thesis Award from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

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Mark Fowler, Director

Mark Fowler is a Director of Neumann & Turnour Lawyers and supervises the property and commercial sections of the practice. His areas of legal practice include property, with a particular focus on the affordable, community and social housing sectors, commercial law, and not-for-profit and charity law, including the law applying to international aid organisations. Following several years working with indigenous communities in Malaysia and the Northern Territory, he has swiftly become one of the Australian experts in social and affordable housing law, especially the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). Mark is also a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Queensland Law School. His research topic concerns religious freedom and tax frameworks.

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Starting a Charity, Social Enterprise or Other Not-for-profit Organisation

We understand you want to use your organisation’s resources to meet needs in the most effective way. Not-for-profit organisations and Charities have a number of options for how they set up their operations. We can help you choose the best option for your situation, which we suggest may vary with your operational activities and objectives. Whether you are just getting setup or you are well established and want to setup subsidiary entities or operate across new borders, we can provide advice tailored to your circumstances.

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Your Constitution and Purposes

How will your organisation maintain the integrity of, and direct resources towards, its stated purposes? Your Constitution, rules or bylaws are important documents that provide a framework for the pursuit of those purposes, and may detail: powers and duties, liabilities, members, boards, meetings, subcommittees, accounts, audits, indemnity, amalgamation, winding up or dissolving, and mechanisms to adress specific issues such as Deductible Gift Recipient status. We can draft, amend, or review your constitution and governing documents, to help your organisation keep up to date and ‘on track’ with the pursuit of its purposes. In particular, your Constitution may require review if you are impacted by the ACNC Commissioner’s interpretation statements, the ATO’s taxation rulings, or other changes in the law and its interpretation.

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Managing your Organisation

Just as it is important to plan ahead to anticipate a range of issues, it is also important to manage your organisation proactively. A number of topics relating to the management of your organisation are set out below, from registrations and staffing through to managing conflicts and risk. In some cases you may need to carefully measure, report on and review the pursuit of your organisation’s purposes. In particular, some not-for-profit organisations take the form of social enterprises that contract to provide outcomes on social issues (‘social impact bonds’).

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The ACNC, ASIC and ATO: Registrations and Compliance

Have your directors and secretary complied with their duties under federal laws such as the ACNC Act 2012, Corporations Act 2001, accompanying regulations, state laws and pursuant to your Constitution? Are you positioned to maintain your various ACNC, ABN, GST, fundraising and other registrations? Are you confident your organisation is not trading whilst insolvent? There are a number of government Agencies that may regulate your organisation including, but not limited to, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and state regulating bodies.

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One aspect of compliance is reporting to the relevant regulators and agencies – on time and accurately. For example, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission requires registered entities to lodge an Annual Information Statement. Your income (and activities) may need to be audited and reported. Requirements may change year to year depending on a variety of matters including, but not limited to, dynamic factors such as your organisation’s income for the year.

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Taxation Concessions and Exemptions

Tax concessions including deductibility and exemptions can assist your organisation to effectively achieve its purposes, and may encourage donors to contribute to your organisation. We can assist you in relation to State Land Tax, Payroll Tax, Federal Income Tax, Deductible Gift Recipient Status and Fringe Benefits Tax. We can also provide advice on the appropriateness of such concessions and exemptions for your organisation.

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Gifts, Donations, Fundraising and Bequests

What is the legal definition of a gift? Does your organisation need to be registered for fundraising? Should your organisation obtain Deductible Gift Recipient status or Public Benevolent Institution status? Can you accept distributions from public and private ancillary funds or a family trust? What clauses should you recommend to those persons wishing to leave your organisation bequests in their wills? We can advise you on these issues and the legal aspects of diversifying the income stream of your organisation.

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Government Grants and Funding Contracts

What legals do you need in place to apply for a round of government funding? Is a proposed government contract fair? In what circumstances can the government alter or give away your funding contract? Can you object to the award of a government contract to another organisation? Government grants and funding contracts are another option in relation to securing your funding base or finding new sources of funding that may be applied to carrying out the objects of your organisation.

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Employment, Volunteers and Discrimination Issues

The application of employment and discrimination laws on charities and not-for-profits, especially religious organisations, is not always straightforward. Is a team member a volunteer or employee? If they have been improperly categorised are you liable for outstanding entitlements? Can you ever refuse service or employment to someone and will it result in discrimination or ‘equal opportunity’ issues? How might modern awards, enterprise agreements, the Fair Work Act and other standards apply to your situation? We can assist in structuring your employment or volunteer arrangements, applying for Fringe Benefit Tax concessions and other matters such as: Employment Contracts, Workplace Policies & Training, Termination/Dismissal, Confidentiality Obligations, and Restraints of Trade.

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The Board, Trustees and Responsible Persons

What factors should you consider when approaching potential board members, trustees and secretaries? How can you avoid conflicts of interest? Can and should you appoint a patron or subcommittee? Neumann & Turnour Lawyers can advise on the duties of board members, trustees and ‘responsible persons’ under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), state and territory trusts acts, and the ACNC’s Governance Standards for board members.

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Your organisation needs to ensure it complies with its Constitution, rules or bylaws in relation to meetings. For example, most organisations are required to hold an Annual General Meeting in a particular way. Notices, voting requirements and other processes become particularly important if your organisation is required to remove a member or board member and resolve disputes with minimum ‘fallout?’ We take such matters into account when drafting your organisation’s Constitution or governing documents, and can provide advice on updating your Constitution to provide for meetings electronically and flying minutes.

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Dispute Resolution and Managing External and Internal Conflicts

How do you discipline an employee or team member appropriately? How do you respond if the ATO disputes entitlement to a tax exemption? Conflicts may originate internally or externally and they do not always require court proceedings. In certain circumstances matters may often be resolved by correspondence or other means, and we have experience in progressing matters through to mediation or litigation (including property litigation, debt recovery, contractual and employment disputes).

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Risk Management and Insurance

By being prepared for risk, you will be better equipped to deal with issues quickly as they arise and to stay focused on the purposes of your organisation. We can help you to consider and review the legal aspects of duties in relation to Occupational Health & Safety and Insurance policies, risk management strategies, and the activities of your organisation. We can also help you to limit the liability of your organisation, respond to claims against your organisation and explore options you might not have thought of before like appointing a volunteer coordinator.

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Joint Ventures, Mergers, Amalgamations, Partnerships and Auspicing

There are many reasons Charities and Not-for-profits choose to work with or alongside other organisations. For example, to focus enable each organisation to focus on particular tasks, or to reduce costs and maximise efficiencies. In considering whether to do so, your organisation may need to pay careful attention to continuing to pursue its stated purposes and other laws. If you are considering a joint venture, merger, amalgamation, partnership (or other collaborative arrangements such as Auspicing for the purposes of accepting tax deductible donations) please contact us and we will be happy to talk you through the options, including some you may not have thought of yet.

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Trademarks, Social Media, and Advertising

Intellectual Property rights can be particularly important if your organisation is in a crowded market and you want to protect your brand. You may also need to avoid mis-representations, discriminatory or defamatory comments and other inappropriate communications. We can assist your organisation in trademarking and provide advice on proactively managing your organisation’s communications.

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Property and Commercial

Do you want to: expand to a different premises; make ‘good use’ of facilities through sub-leasing; or ensure ‘the document’ you are signing is appropriate? We can provide assistance in relation to contracts, leasing, easements, mortgages, and land tax, stamp duty and rates exemptions. We have also provided extensive advice on the involvement of not-for-profit organisations in unique schemes such as the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

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Submissions to State and Federal Government

‘Framing the discussion’ in relation to legislative changes is important for the ongoing stability of charities and not-for-profit organisations, particularly those that are well established and need to respond to changes in operating conditions. Neumann & Turnour Lawyers have specialist skills assisting organisations in making submissions to state and federal government on the effects of proposed changes in the law. For example, in addition to client submissions, we have prepared submissions on the 2011 Scoping Study for a National Not-for-profit Regulator, the 2010 Senate Inquiry into Charities and Public and the 2011 reforms to the NRAS provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth).

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Changing or Ending your Organisation

How will you resolve a deadlock between board members about whether to enter a joint venture or end your organisation? If there are financial issues, can you appoint an administrator? How will you ensure members are not liable and assets are not at risk? We can help you plan exit strategies and deal with issues that may be faced when your organisation changes or comes to an end.

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Our Experience and Clients

We have a wealth of experience upon which you may draw and members of our team often serve in a voluntary capacity on boards or committees. We understand that each charity is unique and may require specialist advice or involve complex structures, and over the last 40 years Neumann & Turnour Lawyers have assisted thousands of charities and not-for-profits of various types, including:

  • Welfare Organisations;
  • Overseas Aid and Development Funds;
  • Educational/Professional Institutions and School Building Funds;
  • Private and Public Ancillary Funds;
  • Other Charitable Trusts including trusts for the relief of Poverty;
  • Indigenous Organisations;
  • Sporting Clubs;
  • Environmental Organisations;
  • Churches and Religious Organisations;
  • Co-ops;
  • Foreign Charities;
  • Public Benevolent Institutions;
  • Companies Limited by Guarantee;
  • Social and Affordable Housing Providers;
  • Public Benevolent Institutions;
  • Health Promotion Charities;
  • Hospitals and Healthcare Providers;
  • Childcare Organisations;
  • Social Enterprises;
  • Private Philanthropists and Foundations;
  • International Charities; and
  • Charities and Not-for-profit organisations based in the USA, UK, Europe, Asia and New Zealand.
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Contact Us

For more information please do not hesitate to contact us. You are welcome to connect to our email updates, view the profiles of our charities and not-for-profits team (Dr Matthew Turnour, Mark Fowler, Nathan Rieck and Chris Mills) and our publications (journal articles, papers, book contributions, submissions and other media links). Please click here for directions or details of our office in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


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