Digital Impact Conference; a HUGE success!

Who knew data could ignite such debate and emotion? Well, the speakers and attendees at Saturday’s Digital Impact Conference for starters…

The hugely successful Digital Impact Conference, presented by Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and ACPNS, brought together industry, government, nonprofits and peak bodies to discuss how technology is currently affecting civil society and how it will continue to in the years to come.

Key areas included the varying possibilities created by digital data and infrastructure for working across sectors and the demands that these relationships entail; an exploration of examples from indigenous communities across Australia that have built digital archives and cultural resources that align with and respect their longstanding information management practices; a round of presentations from sector leaders highlighting emerging and innovative organisational forms, collaborations and governance models enabled by digital data; and the role of bias in data and algorithms, strategies for addressing these biases and the broader implications for civil society.

Links to video recordings of the sessions and interviews with speakers will be available soon via Stanford’s site at

And watch this space as well; posts from key speakers and experts on digital data will soon be available via this blog. In the meantime, we welcome your questions and views and encourage you to post via the Reply link.

Professor Emeritus Myles McGregor-Lowndes

On 20 August 2017, ACPNS’ founding director Myles McGregor-Lowndes was recognised for his distinguished, important and longstanding contribution to QUT over 35 years with the title of Professor Emeritus.

In recognition of outstanding academic service, Council may choose to confer the title of Professor Emeritus on professors who are retiring from the University.

In considering awarding the title of Professor Emeritus, Council will normally take into account:

  • the Professor’s distinguished service to QUT by reference to intellectual and scholarly contributions and leadership
  • the length of QUT service, in all levels
  • any other factors relevant to the Professor’s service to QUT which may be appropriate to the recognition of distinguished service.

Myles McGregor-Lowndes joined QUT in 1982, advancing to Professor in 2002. He is the Founding Director of The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies (ACPNS), which has built a strong national and international reputation for teaching, research and impact on practice, Professor McGregor-Lowndes has written extensively on non-profit tax and regulation, non-profit legal entities, government grants and standard charts of accounts as a means of reducing the compliance burden.

Professor McGregor-Lowndes is a founding member of the Australian Taxation Office Charities Consultative Committee and the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission Advisory Board and, in June 2003, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “service to the community by providing education and support in legal, financial and administrative matters to non-profit organisations.”

Professor McGregor-Lowndes’ contribution to the Australian and international non-profit sector has been extensive and enduring. His research contributes significantly not only to the academy but also to policy makers and the non-profit and philanthropy sectors. His contribution to the creation of a National Standard Chart of Accounts (NSCOA) for the sector extended the non-profit accounting knowledge base, provided significant savings for the sector and reduced red tape, resulting unanimous adoption of NSCOA by the Council of Australian Governments.

Myles McGregor-Lowndes also has provided compelling evidence to Australia’s judiciary on decisions made when families challenge charitable bequests, and has presented his research by invitation from governments in a range of countries including New Zealand, China, Korea and Canada.

Advisory tools emanating from the research of Professor McGregor-Lowndes and the ACPNS are used extensively in the sector. Among the significant government and sector committees that have sought a particular contribution from Professor McGregor-Lowndes are the Productivity Commission, the Advisory Board for the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission, and the Australian Tax Office’s Charities Consultative Committee.

Myles McGregor-Lowndes’ latest book Charity Regulation – the Inside Story (co-edited with CEO of Canada’s Muttart Foundation Robert Wyatt) brings together for the first time the main actors in charity regulation internationally in order to guide policy makers, public administrators and the third sector towards possible future regulatory paths.

Congratulations Myles!

Digital Impact: What Australia’s philanthropy and nonprofit sectors REALLY need to know

Would you like to know more about how technology will affect your organisation and sector? Would you like to hear what the leaders in this area from Stanford University have learned so you can feed it into what your organisation is doing? Late this month there is the chance to have your say and hear from international and Australian leaders.


If you want to be more confident about your strategy – or know just where to start in this complex area, this day is important for you.

29 July, 2017 | EY Lvl 51, 111 Eagle St, Brisbane


Digital Impact is a one-day forum never before offered in Australia about leveraging the digital revolution to benefit Australia’s philanthropy and nonprofit sectors. The goals are to:

  • link Australian NPOs and foundations into a new international movement – and position our sector to take advantage of emerging data practices
  • learn from what nonprofit and philanthropy sectors are doing elsewhere
  • share outstanding examples of what some Australian and other nonprofit organisations (NPOs) are doing
  • spotlight existing resources not widely known across the sector, and
  • consider issues and ideas for policy and ongoing action.

It is designed to cover the basics plus extend what you know – whether you are a technology novice or more experienced.

International leaders in this area, The Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University’s Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society are delivering this forum in 10 locations around the world. QUT’s ACPNS has worked with the well known Lucy Bernholz and her team to bring  Australia into this global program. EY is providing a great venue and a range of sector supporters, such as the Department of Social Services, the Community Services Industry Alliance and its members, and QUT’s Institute for Future Environments are working together to gather attendees from across the country and Australian speakers to add to the international expertise. This is intentionally cross-sector – nonprofit, philanthropy, government, industry – to focus on the issues and possibilities.

One of the most important questions facing all sizes and types of NPOs worldwide today is how technology can support their work for the community. Australian nonprofits

spend half of what for-profit organisations do on technology training for their staff, are not prioritising technology and yet need it urgently. Disruption is already hitting organisations – and offering new opportunities.

This forum aims to enable the sector to benefit from and maximise nonprofit impact in the digital age.


Date:                 Saturday 29 July, 2017
Time:                 8:30am for a 9:00am start / 5:00pm conclusion
Venue:               EY | Level 51, 111 Eagle St, Brisbane
Cost:                  AU$120

(includes full day catering and subsidised by caring organisations who really want to see this meeting happen in Australia)

Space genuinely is limited. Register early to avoid disappointment.
Thanks again to the many supporters who have subsidised the event to made this as low cost as possible and accessible across the sector.


FREE WEBINAR: Giving and philanthropy: How does Queensland measure up?

Giving and philanthropy: How does Queensland measure up?


Celebrating giving and volunteering in Queensland.

As part of QCF Philanthropy Week, we’ll be investigating giving in Queensland, including data from Giving Australia;

who gives? | who volunteers? | why? | how? | where to next?

Data from the philanthropy sector is rare in this country. Hear from those in the know on how much Queenslanders give and volunteer, and what this means for Queensland’s philanthropic/nonprofit and for-profit sectors.

Friday 16 June, 2017 | 10:00am sharp – 10:45pm (AEST)
Can’t attend in real time? You should still register; all registrants will receive a recording of the webinar.


  • Benjamin Cox, National Director, Board of Management and QLD Chairman of Fundraising Institute Australia
  • Associate Professor Wendy Scaife, lead researcher of Giving Australia 2016*, Australia’s largest ever review and analysis of giving and volunteering

We would love to hear from you! Forward your questions to ahead of time and we will endeavour to answer them live at the webinar.


Don’t miss next week’s Nonprofit Subject Selection Evening

Looking to make a difference? We are.

At the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) we want to make a difference in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector, just as you do.

Our courses are well known and highly regarded in the sector. This event is designed to inform you about new and exciting changes to our courses. Course Coordinator, Dr Craig Furneaux and other lecturers will be on hand to direct you into the study stream most suited to you and your individual career goals.

This is an invaluable event for anyone:

  • already studying with ACPNS who would like to find out more about their study options and new course opportunities
  • anyone considering studying with ACPNS who would like to know more about our courses and where they can take you
  • graduates and ACPNS alumni who are considering returning to study.
Date: Thursday 15 June, 2017
Time: 5:45pm for a 6:00pm start / 7:30pm conclusion | Drinks and nibbles will be provided
Venue: QUT, Gibson Room | Z Block, Level 10, 2 George St, Brisbane

                           REGISTER NOW

#fixfundraising – Sue Woodward of Justice Connect talks barriers & puzzlement to current fundraising regulation

The Reforming Fundraising Regulation Forum was recently held at QUT, hosted by ACPNS. The forum aimed to encourage discussion and learning about the next steps for fundraising regulation reform. Following on from QUT’s Reforming Fundraising Regulation Conference held in 2011, this conference focused on an assessment of the current issues to be addressed, accounting for fundraising, self-regulation and the role of local authorities. It brought together regulators, policy makers, scholars and practitioners to review the current state of fundraising regulation and make recommendations for future reform.  

We thank Sue Woodward, Director of National Projects/Not-for-profit Law for being a part of the conference and for posting this blog for us.

Here I was again. A different room (beautifully ‘three-sixty’ degrees), but still coming to QUT to bemoan precious non-profit resources being wasted because we need to #fixfundraising! Don’t get me wrong, I love coming to Brissie. I have used the valuable insights I gained at the last fundraising law forum hosted by ACPNS in 2011 as the foundation for my advocacy and law reform work on this issue ever since. My gripe is that we still needed to discuss the issue, even though we have an implementable, cost-neutral, 3-point plan. A plan that could happen this year if only there was the political will – minor amendments to the Australian Consumer Law, repeal of the State-based regimes and continued work on improving self-regulation! Check out the coalition of sector and professional bodies, and about 200 charities, behind this #fixfundraising campaign

So with about 60 experienced people from across the breadth of the non-profit sector, academics, lawyers, accountants, regulators and policy advisers in the room, we reflected on three big issues: fundraising law reform (or not!); how to account for fundraising costs transparently (and in compliance with AASB standards); and some best practice examples of self-regulation and co-regulation. Over lunch we were joined by others for the launch of the latest book and to acknowledge the retirement of my friend and hero Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes.

So what did I take away this time?

I learnt it’s possible to have the same set of financial information and produce three different fundraising admin ratios (from 27% through to 67%), all of which comply with the current Australian accounting standards because of something called ‘preparer’s discretion’. We discovered this in a group activity with an actual Courier Mail journalist breathing down our necks ready to publish a league table of charity admin ratios the next day. So when we have fixed fundraising, we definitely have to #fixnfp_accountingstds!

I learnt that when regulators and peak sector bodies work together many of the ‘on the ground’ issues can be worked out sensibly, without the need for prescriptive and detailed regulations (for example, they can come up with a simple system that avoids six different charities having fundraisers on the same street corner at the same time).

I left feeling sorry for regulators who have to enforce legislation that is no longer fit for purpose – it is preposterous to think that they should be trying to control/monitor the explosion of online and crowdfunding fundraising by sending letters telling people they need to get a licence, advertise etc. Better for them to be doing proactive compliance work.

Thank you ACPNS for inviting me to another thought provoking event.




Fab launch for a fab publication: Regulating Charities: The Inside Story

Last week Dr Robert Fitzgerald AM launched Regulating Charities: The Inside Story at QUT. This publication, edited by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Bob Wyatt, aims to give an insider’s review of the last quarter century of charity law policy and an insight for its future development.

Charity Commissioners and leading charity policy reformers from across the world reflect on the aims and objectives of charity regulation and what it has achieved. Charity Commissioners and nonprofit regulatory agency heads chart the nature of charity law reforms that they have implemented, with a ‘warts and all’ analysis. They are joined by influential sector reformers who assess the outcomes of their policy agitation. All reflect on the current state of charities in a fiscally restrained environment, often with conservative governments, and offer their views on productive regulatory paths available for the future.

We sincerely thank Dr Fitzgerald for travelling from Sydney to be a part of this launch.

Regulating Charities: The Inside Story is available now from Routledge at    |    ISBN:  Y265528 / 9781138680548


Giving Australia 2016 WEBINAR SERIES: Philanthropy and philanthropists


Friday 5 May, 2017 | 11:30am sharp – 12:30pm (AEST)

What can YOU learn from Giving Australia 2016*, the largest research into philanthropic behaviour ever undertaken in Australia, funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS) as an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership (The Partnership)?

  • What are the key messages from grantmakers and philanthropists about giving today and in the future?
  • How is giving happening and why and to what?
  • What are grantmakers and philanthropists saying about the future of philanthropy in Australia?  

This webinar is the first in the Giving Australia series and includes the key data and insights from Giving Australia 2016.

Giving Australia 2016: Philanthropy and philanthropists
(first in the Giving Australia series)

Friday 5 May, 2017 | 11:30am sharp – 12:30pm (AEST)
Can’t attend in real time? You should still register. All registrants will receive a recording of the webinar.

Led by Giving Australia researchers:
Professor Jo Barraket and Dr Christopher Baker from the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, Swinburne University of Technology with inputs from ACPNS at QUT, DSS and The Partnership.

Data from the philanthropy sector is rare in this country. This is an invaluable learning experience for those working in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, especially those working in grantmaking and grantseeking areas.


Other webinars in this series

Giving Australia reports will be released progressively throughout coming months, each with their own in-depth webinar – watch this space or email for more information.

Like reading? You’ll love this

Giving Australia reports and fact sheets are freely available via the Department of Social Services’ research projects website, including the Philanthropy and philanthropists report, on which this webinar is based.

Learn more about Giving Australia | Subscribe to the Giving Australia blog

*Giving Australia was commissioned by the Department of Social Services as an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership. It was led by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at QUT with the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology and the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs.

Want to make a difference? Now’s your chance.

Hayley (pictured), Founded ATMA, a humanitarian organization dedicated to improving education for underprivileged children in India


Develop the skills for a career in the management of philanthropic and nonprofit organisations through ACPNS.

If you’ve been considering studying in 2017 now’s the time to act!

We are now taking mid-year enrolments for the Graduate Certificate in Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) and the Master of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies).

If you’ve been considering enrolling in our courses now’s the time to act.


30 June – On time closing date for course applications (late applications may be accepted but may incur a fee)
30 June  – 2 July – Orientation and Intensive Weekend for new and continuing students (on campus)


Flexibility – STUDY ONLINE or ON CAMPUS. We employ cutting edge technology so that students anywhere in Australia or New Zealand can participate in real-time lectures or access online recordings. Units are taught in six-week teaching periods, meaning you can cover a greater breadth of topics in a shorter period of time.

Up-to-date information – ACPNS is recognised as a dynamic education leader both here and overseas and offers a teaching and research environment designed to meet sector needs. Our courses are a winning balance of theory and practical experience.

Enhance your current career or transition into a new one Our courses are well known and highly regarded in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector and are tailored to equip students for a career in the management of philanthropic and nonprofit organisations.

Build your networks – You will be studying with people who are just as passionate about the sector as you are and our lecturers are enthusiastic experts in their field.


6TP2 (4 March – 14 April 2017)
GSN481 Philanthropic and Nonprofit Frameworks of Governance
The unit explores contemporary understandings of philanthropic and nonprofit governance in the context of social, economic and political systems. It locates these understandings in various theoretical and descriptive frameworks providing students with both the knowledge and analytical skills that are necessary to reflect critically on philanthropy and nonprofit governance systems and their environments.
GSN484 Management for Philanthropic and Nonprofit Organisations
In the context of the multiple management challenges facing nonprofit and philanthropic entities, this unit provides students with an introduction to contemporary thinking and practice in the effective and efficient management of organisations. While the focus is on nonprofit management, wider management and organisational theory will be drawn on in order that proactive responses to situations, problems and dilemmas facing nonprofit organisations can be developed by students.

6TP3 (8 May – 16 June 2017)
GSN483 Ethics for Philanthropic and Nonprofit Organisations
This unit introduces students to ethical theories and constructs with a focus on producing effective personal and professional resolutions to those ethical dilemmas specifically associated with philanthropic and nonprofit organisations. The unit recognises the distinctive mission and character of these organisations, while seeking to provide an understanding of integrity and response-ability.

GSN487 Introduction to Social Enterprise
The nonprofit sector continues to mature and expand with the establishment of more sophisticated social enterprise programs. With significant reductions in the traditional sources of revenue, increasingly sophisticated competition and dramatic changes in expectations from clients and stakeholder groups, the need for effective strategy and implementation has grown. The unit offers a background to social enterprise and associated issues.

6TP4 (3 July – 11 August 2017)
GSN485 Legal Issues for Philanthropic and Nonprofit Organisations
The unit introduces students to critical issues of philanthropic and nonprofit law and taxation. The unit examines the regulatory, taxation and governance framework of nonprofit organisations and philanthropic transactions in Australian Federal and State jurisdictions.

GSN488 Fundraising Development Principles
This unit considers the broad factors that influence fundraising/development success. It applies theories of marketing, public relations and management to fundraising and development and builds an understanding of the philanthropic environment. It re-examines the principles of fundraising/development, institutional readiness, case statement preparation, leadership, constituencies and research to build understanding of the context in which good development practice occurs.

6TP5 (4 September – 13 October 2017)
GSN486 Accounting and Finance Issues for Philanthropic & Nonprofit Organisations
This unit introduces students to an overview of financial reporting. The unit begins with an overview of the purpose of accounting and the types of financial statements that comprise a financial report. The unit also focuses on the Australian financial reporting framework and whether an Australian accounting standard for nonprofit organisations is required. International comparisons are made.

GSN489 Fundraising Development Techniques
This unit builds on GSN488 to delve into particular techniques of resource mobilisation in nonprofit organisations. It considers a range of income generation vehicles and techniques including capital and major gifts, special events, bequests, direct mail, telemarketing, e-fundraising, gift clubs and the art of building donor relationships. It also examines professional evaluation of fundraising programs.

We would love to hear from you. If you have any questions about our courses or enrolment please call us on 07 3138 1020 or email