A not-for-profit group can incorporate to set up a legal identity separate to its members. Features of an incorporated association include:
- lodged documents are kept on a public register
- it can sue and be sued – giving some protection for individual members
- it can enter into contracts
- affairs are usually run by a committee.
Incorporated associations that are prescribed – ie gross receipts of more than $500,000 per year – need to lodge annual financial records with either Consumer and Business Services (CBS) or the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission – if they are a registered charity.
Associations must follow legal standards of accounting. Refer to accounts and audits for details about reporting the association's finances and conducting an annual audit.
The association’s full name must appear on all official documents, including:
- business letters
- accounts and receipts
- official notices
A common seal – stamp showing the full name of the association – is also needed and acts as a signature.
Roles in an incorporated association usually include:
- public officer – primary contact for association
- chair – presides at association and committee meetings
- secretary – responsible for all correspondence
- treasurer – income and financial records
- committee members.
Incorporated associations must have a public officer. This person signs most of the forms and documents and should understand what is needed under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985. The public officer must be:
- 18 years or older
- a resident of South Australia.
Notify CBS within one month if a new public officer is nominated or if the existing officer changes their address. Penalties apply if the association is without a public officer for longer than a month.
Annual general meetings
The first annual general meeting (AGM) must be held within 18 months, and no more than six months after association’s end of financial year. All other AGMs must be held no more than five months after its end of financial year.