establishing a Not for Profit in Australia

Best practice in establishing a Not for Profit in Australia

There are a range of entity structures that are suitable for establishing a not for profit in Australia.  Each structure is designed to meet specific needs what suits one organisation may not suit another.

The main choices of organisational structures for not for profit organisations are:

  • Incorporated associations ( for small scale organisations),
  • Non-distributing co-operatives (suitable for any size of entity);
  • Mutuals ( usually a specialised form of co-operative);
  • Companies limited by Guarantee ( for medium to large size organisations);
  • Trusts

It should be noted that the trustees of a trust are appointed by a settler. Trustees are not elected and there are no annual general meetings.

Incorporated associations are only suitable for small organisations with limited turnover. If incorporated associations become too large they will, under normal circumstances, be forced to convert to a company limited by guarantee or a co-operative.

Common Mistakes

Not for Profits and Tax

Just because you are a not for profit does not automatically mean you are exempt from tax. Not for profit exemptions are set out in the Income Tax Assessment Act. It is necessary to be sure whether or not any of the income tax exemptions apply to your organisation. 


Many organisations describe themselves as “mutuals”. An organisation is only a mutual if it complies with the principles of mutuality. Mattila Advisory has specialist experience in establishing mutuals that comply with the principles of mutuality.

Call Mattila Advisory if you need any further information on how we can assist you in establishing a not for profit in Australia.

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