An introduction to managing your organisation


Community Door has a range of resources and information to support you to manage your community service organisation. In this section we provide an introduction to the day-to-day management issues you may come across.

woman working on laptop in office

Applying for funding

Many not-for-profit organisations, especially new organisations operate with small budgets and very few, if any paid staff. Your organisation may receive income from membership fees, donations or other types of fundraising. Most organisations will also want to apply for funding from other organisations to continue to provide their services and to expand their activities.

Who offers funding?

Funding or grants are offered by:

  • Federal government departments or agencies
  • State government departments or agencies
  • Local government
  • Businesses
  • Philanthropic organisations

To find grants that might be suitable you could ask the government bodies that you deal with, ask other agencies or organisations that do similar work, find out if your local government offers community grants, ask your state or federal MP about government grants and check the newspapers for advertisements.

There are many different types of funding available but your organisation will only be able to apply to those that share the same aims and interests as you. If you are applying to government or philanthropic organisations, there will usually be funding guidelines that describe the purpose of the funding as well as information about which organisation are eligible to apply and what the grant can be used to fund.

Funding guidelines also include important dates such as when the application must be received, when the project can start and finish, and when you will be told if you are successful. Most funding guidelines require that you write a funding submission or application that describe what you’d like to do, how you intend to do it and any other information required in the guidelines such as a budget.

For most grants, submission writing involves a lot of time in addition to the day-to-day work of the organisation, and your application will not necessarily be successful. Before applying for funding, your organisation will need to decide if it is able to spend sufficient time on writing submissions and if it has the resources to meet the reporting and other requirements of the funding body if it is successful.

Most funding bodies ask for regular reports that includes details about how the money is being spent and these might have to be provided in a particular format. You may need to develop policies and procedures outlined by the funding body that are aimed at ensuring your organisation is providing services according to best practice standards. All of these requirements will take affect the way that you plan and run your organisation.

Writing a submission

If you do decide to apply for funding and have found one or more funding programs that might suit your organisation and its needs, you will need to write a submission. As well as funding guidelines, many funding bodies will also provide their own application form for you to complete. If you are applying for a small amount of money to buy a piece of equipment, for example, you may only need to complete a short application. For larger projects or a program of activities.

Describing the project and why your organisation should receive the funding

You might want to include research that your organisation or others have done already and provide statistics and other data that shows a community need. If your organisation has already done similar work, you can include information about how you can build on this. It is often a good idea to include letters of support from other organisations or the community that your project will benefit.

The funding body will also be interested in whether you have received other funding and if you met all the requirements. If you haven’t received funding in the past, it may help your application if you can show that your organisation is well-managed and accountable to its clients, staff and the community. You may also be asked to provide an annual report, financial statements and the qualifications of your staff.

What the project will achieve and how your organisation will complete it

You will need to include details about what you want to achieve through the project and how you will know if you have been successful. This means thinking of ways that you can measure improvements during and after the project. If you are going to run activities, you will need to provide details about what they will involve, who might be interested and how your organisation will run them. Most funding bodies will also expect to see a detailed budget for your program or project.

You may want to talk to the contact person for the funding body before completing your submission to ensure that you include all the necessary information.

Funding decisions

Most funding is competitive which means that there will be many other organisations applying at the same time. Sometimes you will need to wait for some weeks or even months to hear whether your application has been successful.

If your organisation does receive funding, you will usually be asked to sign an agreement that describes certain requirements which you will be expected to meet. This is a legal document so if your organisation cannot meet these requirements, they might have to repay the funding and may not be able to apply for further funding. Before signing the agreement, you might want to ask for advice from a solicitor.

Further information

Community Door has more information about writing funding:

Department of Communities information about:

Our Community information about:

Making your organisation accountable

If your organisation is accountable this means that it acts in a way that satisfies the expectations that are required of you. Organisations are often accountable to individuals within and outside the organisation as well as other organisations.

Most community organisations are accountable to:

  • people who use the organisation or clients
  • members of the association and the community
  • any funding bodies that provide grants
  • any licensing body that licenses services under regulation
  • any paid employees or volunteers

There are many areas of accountability where your responsibilities are clearly defined and may be legally enforced. The ethics or values of your organisation may determine how you meet other areas of accountability. To be accountable you will need to be aware of what is expected of your organisation and develop ways of showing that they are doing what is expected and/or agreed.

Associations Incorporation Act

The Associations Incorporation Act is clear about the responsibilities of incorporated associations and the penalties for not complying. The Act details obligations about annual general meetings, altering the rules, changes to office holders and financial and business registration requirements. To ensure that you understand all of these obligations you can contact the Office of Fair Trading, check the Act or ask for professional legal advice. You will need to set up systems of information management and reporting to enable your association to meet these obligations.


An organisation that is accountable to its clients will ask them for feedback about the service it provides and involve them in making decisions. You may also want to develop ways of dealing with complaints from clients through policies or procedures that reflect your values and ethics and ensure that any issues are resolved fairly.

There are also laws about how clients should be treated including anti-discrimination legislation, consumer protection legislation and the protection of children and young people. You also have a duty of care to clients and staff to ensure their safety while they are on the organisation’s premises. The organisation is responsible for maintaining the premises so they are safe and taking out public liability insurance.

Members of the association and the community

Your association will have specific obligations to members and the public under the Act such as advertising your annual general meeting widely and publishing an annual report. You might also want to consider other ways of being more accountable to the community. You might decide to hold some open meetings to allow other members and the public to attend or provide information about your organisation’s activities to the local media so the community can learn more about what you do.

Funding bodies

If your organisation receives money from a funding body, you will need to ensure that you meet their requirements. This might involve completing a Service Agreement providing project reports and financial information, evaluating the service that your organisation provides and ensuring that you meet the funding guidelines.

Employees and volunteers

The management committee is responsible for establishing acceptable work conditions for the organisation’s employees through clear policies and good staff management practices that may also be applied to volunteers.

The employees of the organisation are accountable to the organisation to perform their job well. There is usually an expectation that volunteers will also be accountable to the organisation.

An organisation that employs staff will need to meet its obligations under all the state and federal laws that cover employment such as anti-discrimination legislation, industrial relations legislation, workplace health and safety and work choices legislation. The organisation will also need to ensure that superannuation is paid, insurance for workers compensation is kept up to date and the correct amount of tax is deducted from employees’ salaries and sent to the Australian Taxation Office.

In Queensland, the organisation will need to make sure that all employees, volunteers and students have a ‘working with children check’ to ensure that they are suitable. You can contact the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian to find out more about this requirement.

Other legal obligations

Incorporated associations also have a number of important legal obligations under state and federal business, taxation and other legislation. Contract law will cover any formal agreement that you have with a funding body, leases on premises, cars or other goods and other contracts with individuals or organisations.

Depending on your organisation, it may be accountable to state and federal authorities for income tax, fringe benefits tax, land tax, payroll tax and stamp duty. If your association is involved in fundraising from the public and not just its own members, you may also need to find out about your obligations from the Office of Fair Trading.

Your association may want to contact the Australian Taxation Office, Office of State Revenue, Office of Fair Trading or contact a solicitor and/or accountant to find out more about these obligations.

Further information

Office of Fair Trading information:

Australian Taxation Office links to:

Queensland University of Technology has information about:

Community Door links to information about:

Keeping records

As an incorporated association you will need to keep certain records to meet your obligations under the Associations Incorporation Act. You will also need to keep any records that are required under other relevant legislation and agreements that you have with funding bodies if you received grants.

These records will be essential for you to meet your reporting requirements to the organisation, funding bodies, clients, government and the community. There may also be other records that you want to keep to for your own purposes to ensure that your organisation runs as well as possible.

To ensure that you are keeping your records properly, you will need to understand:

  • what information is required
  • who is responsible for collecting the information
  • what procedure will be used collect the information
  • where it should be kept
  • how long it must be kept
  • how it is meant to be used

Your organisation will also need to ensure that any personal information is collected, kept and used in a way that meets the requirements of privacy legislation. This means that only information that is necessary should be collected and it needs to be kept securely and not provided to anyone unless they need to know.

Financial records, minutes and registers

Financial records can include a range of items including invoices, receipts and working documents that explain how your financial reports. All associations are required to keep a cash book that shows amounts paid and received, a receipt book, bank statements, a petty cash book and an asset register. Depending on the size of your association, you may also need to keep a ledger and a journal under the Act.

The management committee is responsible for ensuring that the financial records are kept properly. All financial records need to be complete, accurate and written in English. You will need to set up a financial management system that meets your organisation’s requirements, any requirements under the Act or your rules, and can be clearly understood by you or any other authorised person such as an auditor.

Your association will also need to keep any financial records required by other relevant state and federal legislation. Depending on your organisation this may include records that relate to income tax, capital gains tax, fringe benefits and GST.

As an incorporated association, you must keep a written record or minutes of your committee meetings and general meetings in a special book or folder. The Office of Fair Trading can ask to see copies of your records and if they are not in English, the association will need to provide certified translations.

The management committee is also responsible for keeping a register of all the members of the association. This register or list should include the member’s name, address, date they became a member, date they stopped being a member and other details that are described in the model rules or decided by the association.

You will need to check the relevant legislation to determine if the records must be kept in a particular place, how long they must be kept and how they should be used.

Employee, management committee and volunteer records

All organisations need to keep records for their employees, management committee and volunteers. This information will include their role and responsibilities. A position description should be included for both paid and unpaid staff. Records for paid staff should also include their contract with the organisation that describes their conditions, pay and other benefits.

Management committee records are important to ensure that your organisation meets its obligations under the Act and its rules. Accurate personnel records are important to ensure that your organisation provides staff entitlements under other legislation. Accurate personnel records are also important to ensure that everyone who works for the organisation, paid and unpaid, is clear about their role.

Client records

Information about clients helps the organisation evaluate and plan the services that it provides. If your organisation receives funding, the funding body will usually require client information that will help them monitor and evaluate these services.

Your organisation will need to determine what information it must collect to meet its requirements and good procedures for collecting, keeping and using this information. Depending on the service that your organisation provides it may only need to collect basic statistics such as gender or ethnic background. Other organisations may require details such as name and address while others might need more information.

Further information:

Office of Fair Trading

Australian Taxation Office links to

Queensland University of Technology has information about:

Our Community information about:

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