External sponsorship

Sponsorship from other organisations can provide amazing support for a Grad Group. Sponsorship can be financial or non-financial, with benefits such as venue access, equipment or even staff expertise.
Sponsors will often request some type of recognition in return, such as thanking or mentioning the sponsor, or giving the sponsor a branding presence.

If Grad Groups receive cash income from sponsorship, they may have tax or financial obligations under Australian tax law.

Grad Groups, as not-for-profits (which are not registered charities), can self-assess whether they are exempt from income tax using an ATO review worksheet.

Grad Groups are not automatically exempt from income tax without an accurate self-assessment of exemption.

Even if groups are unincorporated associations, or do not have an ABN, they should still self-assess their tax status every year and determine if they need to pay income tax. Income may include any cash amounts from sponsors.

Many Grad Groups are classified under the income tax exempt category of community service organisations under Australian tax law, and will be exempt from income tax. However, this classification is determined by the constitutional purposes of the Grad Groups, as well as their activities, and it is not automatic.

Some Grad Groups may need to register for GST, and then account and pay for it. Most Grad Groups will not make enough income to be required to pay and account for GST (>$150,000), but if they do, then they must register for GST.

In the rare case that a Grad Group is a registered charity, then it will be exempt from income tax without self-assessing.

NOTE: These recommendations are simply general guidance, not professional legal advice. If unsure, seek independent professional advice.

In taking on contracts or accepting sponsors, Grad Groups should also ensure that they are compliant with their own constitutions, and comply with the following general rules:

  • A Grad Group’s members should not profit or gain direct personal material benefit from their running of the organisation, including from sponsorship contracts.
  • Due to conflicts of interest, committee members of Grad Groups should not receive benefits from sponsorship contracts that are not equally available to all members.
  • Any sponsorship contract that a Grad Group signs should clearly state what and how much is being provided, what is being provided by the Grad Group, dispute settlement terms, and the ability to terminate at any time based on reasonable cause.
  • No sponsors should be able to access University services, or take over any of the specific benefits given to Grad Groups by GSA, or be given personal contact details of members of the Grad Group.