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Drought Charities Welcome ACNC Probe Following Online Abuse

The two drought relief charities at the centre of a charity watchdog inquiry say they are confident the millions of dollars donated to vulnerable farmers are being managed appropriately.

Pro Bono News spoke to representatives from Aussie Helpers and Rural Aid, after the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) revealed it was seeking assurances from both charities that the goods and funds they received were going to those in need.

This follows a Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) report in August that found Aussie Helpers had retained large cash reserves from its yearly donations. The report also said that in 2016-2017, more than a third ($354,000) of the $951,000 Rural Aid received in donations was spent on wages.

Tony Bonnici, a director of Aussie Helpers, told Pro Bono News the charity received nasty feedback on social media following the SMH report, and had reached out to the ACNC on 8 October to ensure they were following proper reporting processes.

He said the ACNC replied telling the charity it was meeting its ongoing reporting obligations, which made the ACNC’s announcement of an inquiry surprising.

Responding to allegations the charity spent too much on wages, Charles Alder, the CEO of Rural Aid – who earnt $110,000 in 2016-17 – said he had no issues with staff salaries and noted Rural Aid couldn’t do the large-scale job it did without paying people decently.

“The greatest challenge that non-profits have, is that they are expected to perform like the best companies we have in Australia but do it for no money,” Alder told Pro Bono News.

To view the full ProBono article, click here.

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