Mission funding – RSL’s charitable trust obligations


Written by CEO/State Secretary: Mr G Kolomeitz

Members are no doubt fully aware that RSL NSW is a charity with a ‘noble and honourable mission’ – to provide for the care, wellbeing, compensation assistance and commemoration of serving and former Defence members and their families. This mission is stated in similar terms in the Objects of the charitable trust governing our operations as a charity. Compliance with this charitable trust allows RSL NSW to enjoy certain taxation benefits deriving from our charitable status. Non-compliance with the terms and rules of this charitable trust risks the loss of our charitable status and resultant benefits. In order to properly comply with the requirements of the trust, RSL NSW must ensure that our ‘income, property and assets are used and applied solely toward the promotion and pursuit of the Objects of the trust. In addition to the risk of such loss of charitable status, a more tangible risk is that posed to the ability of RSL NSW to fund its charitable activities in a substantial and sustainable way into the future.

The upshot is that RSL NSW, including its sub-Branches, has an obligation to direct its financial holdings to the achievement of our charitable purpose, ie, the execution of our Mission. As CEO, I have a duty to explore and develop funding options which both sustain our charitable activities and ensure compliance with our obligations under the charitable trust. The good news is that my team at State Branch and I (in conjunction with external specialist supporters of the League) are developing ‘big, bold, brave’ ideas – initiatives aimed at achieving both these objectives whilst preserving and protecting sub-Branch capital from risk. One such initiative presently being developed is the use of ‘impact investing’ by which sub-Branches invest in bonds provided to fund our charitable services and subsequently receive a return on their investments from the government based on the performance of these services. 

I encourage members to keep an open mind about these funding initiatives and not lose sight of our core Mission – ask the question, do I want to leave the RSL in a better state for the next generations of veterans and ex-Service people and their families?