Update (September 2017) on Incorporated Societies Act Reform

An Exposure Draft of the Incorporated Societies Bill (see Overview of Proposed New Incorporated Societies Act) was subject of consultation (which closed on 30 June 2016), but no Bill has yet been introduced to Parliament. No matter what Government is formed after the 2017 General Election we do not expect any major change to what was proposed in the Exposure Draft Bill as the reforms are not considered to be politically controversial, and we hope the Bill will be introduced early in 2018. When the proposed new Act is enacted some existing societies may have to reconsider whether they should remain as incorporated societies, and ask itself and its members some searching questions: • Why do we have our society, what needs is it meeting, are we fulfilling the wants and needs of our members – fundamentally, what is our “purpose” or “mission”? • Do we need a society (with voting members) or might some other type of organisation (perhaps a trust) better meet our needs? • Might there be merit in considering combining forces with some other organisation or organisations providing similar community services (such as forming a combined sports club or combined cultural society)? • Do we actually need to be incorporated (the main benefit of incorporation for most societies being to protect members from most personal liability for society activities)? • If we choose to remain incorporated, how will we meet the greater reporting and accountability requirements of the new Act? Will we need to pay (or increase) committee honoraria or engage some external, paid professional help? To avoid the pressure of having to revise a...
No Volunteers to Govern a Not-for-Profit Organisation?

No Volunteers to Govern a Not-for-Profit Organisation?

  The Issue It is not uncommon for a society or a charitable trust to find it difficult to find suitable volunteers to fill committee positions or to serve as chartable trustees.  This is a worrying situation for those still prepared to serve, and no statute or constitution will help find volunteers when there are none!   Why are there no volunteers? Those advising organisations with a dearth of volunteers have no magic wand to wave to solve the problem, so the first question to ask is why volunteers cannot be found.  The reasons can be many and varied, and should be analysed. Some of the common reasons may include one or more of the following: Perhaps the organisation’s purposes have run their course, in which case the perceived need for an organisation to exist may have disappeared.  For instance, when women gained the right to vote societies seeking that legislative change had achieved their purposes.  Some such societies might have morphed into political parties or into lobby groups or might have altered their purposes to pursue related causes, but others would simply have ceased their activities. Do those considerations apply? Even if an organisation’s purposes have not run their course the way the organisation is operating may have ceased to inspire involvement or to be effective.  This may be the result of those in leadership becoming tired or stale or upsetting the organisation’s supporters, or the organisation itself may just need to be reinvigorated. All too often those governing an organisation are so immersed in “doing” or managing, that strategic thinking and planning ceases to feature in their...