One RSL In NSW, United For Purpose

Find out how SOP 1 amendments to the Veteran Support Fund will deliver more transparency, recognition and better support for veterans and their families.

SOP1 changes

In collaboration with the District Presidents' Council and consultation with wider RSL NSW sub-Branch membership, the RSL NSW Board and the team at ANZAC House have amended Standard Operating Procedure 1 (SOP1).

This procedure governs the way charitable funds held by sub-Branches are used to support veterans and their families throughout the state.

At its most basic level, this change means that rather than making individual disbursements of charitable funds, each sub-Branch will contribute to its chosen initiatives under an umbrella fund, the Veteran Support Fund.


How it works

RSL NSW sub-Branches nominate which charitable initiatives they want included in the Veteran Support Fund (VSF), by submitting a funding proposal form to their District President, who will submit it to the District Presidents' Council (DPC) for review.

The DPC assess if the nominated initiatives align with the RSL NSW Charitable Purpose, Constitution, Strategic Plan, and relevant policies, and then decide which initiatives to include in the VSF.

RSL NSW sub-Branches choose how much they want to contribute to charitable initiatives in the Veteran Support Fund.

The combined contributions are donated on behalf of sub-Branches to the chosen initiative.

The Donations Oversight Committee (made up of sub-Branch representatives) ensure funds are being donated as per sub-Branch contributions.


How this benefits veterans and their families

Combining contributions allows sub-Branches, together as one RSL NSW, to more effectively fund charitable initiatives and deliver even better outcomes.

The Veteran Support Fund ensures the charitable initiatives that RSL NSW contributes to directly supports veterans and their families.

Veterans are aware of the incredible combined contributions of RSL NSW sub-Branches that support critical veteran initiatives.

The Veteran Support Fund provides full transparency and acknowledgement of contributions and outcomes, encouraging new members to join RSL NSW and access support.

Last year, sub-Branches in NSW worked together to donate a total of $3.1m to support RSL LifeCare Veteran Services. This allowed our charity partner to deliver claims support, advocacy, disaster relief, financial and employment assistance, and homelessness and housing support.

“Over the past two years of consultations, District Presidents have heard from members about the importance of autonomy and of knowing that charitable funds are being used effectively. The only way to balance autonomy with transparency is via the Veteran Support Fund.”

- Derek Leslie, Chair, RSL NSW District Presidents' Council

Case study

Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway

Over the past two years, RSL NSW sub-Branches have individually contributed both small and large amounts to the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, however, there hasn't been visibility or acknowledgment of the total contribution sub-Branches have made.

The VSF for 2022/23 shows $6,000 has been donated to the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, however according to SBA data, $130,000 has been donated by sub-Branches and counting.

RSL NSW sub-Branch donations

130000

Now that sub-Branches are required to make any donations to important initiatives, such as the Walkway, via contributions to the VSF, we will have a clear picture of how much sub-Branches combined are contributing, and the NSW community will better understand the important role the RSL plays in supporting veterans, including commemoration.

From now on the Veteran Support Fund will be able to provide full transparency and recognition for all initiatives that sub-Branches, together as one RSL NSW, support.

Increased visibility and acknowledgment of the help we provide will encourage veterans in our community to join our organisation because they can see it is worthwhile.

Derek Leslie, Chair, RSL NSW District Presidents' Council

Veteran Support Fund Dashboard FY2023/24

Received
Target
Reached
Strategic Plan Implementation (incl training support to sub-Branches)
RSL Lifecare Veteran Services
President’s Shield (funding ANZAC House)
Reveille Funding
RSL National Capitation Fees
Sport & Recreation
Sponsorships
RSL Scholarships
Illawarra Kokoda Scholarship - Raising The Bar Foundation
Gallipoli Scholarship Fund
NCVH Liaison Officer
Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway
Saltwater Veterans
Everyman's Welfare Service
Integra Service Dogs Australia
Central Coast Veterans Centre
Vietnam Veterans Peacekeepers & Peacemakers Association

Nominated charities will be contacted by RSL NSW prior to 30 June 2024 to finalise sponsorship arrangements.

 

For a breakdown of contributions by sub-Branch for FY 23/24 download the spreadsheet
For a breakdown of contributions by sub-Branch for FY 22/23 download the spreadsheet

For a full list of 2024 initiatives download this document

 

VSF Quarterly Updates

View the summary for 1 October – 31 December 2023
View the summary for 1 January – 31 March 2024

 

FAQs
Why is this change happening?

Charitable funds held by sub-Branches must be used in accordance with our charitable purpose. The only way we can balance sub-Branch autonomy, alignment to charitable purpose and transparency is via the Veteran Support Fund (VSF).

This will also increase the visibility and acknowledgement of the contributions RSL makes in NSW to veteran support services. We want all veterans in the state to understand who we are, what we do and what we stand for – and to want to be part of our community. The visibility afforded by the new SOP1 will increase the perception of the value of our organisation to within the veteran community, including potential members.

When does SOP1 and the Veteran Support Fund officially become effective?

The new SOP1 was approved by the RSL NSW Board in March 2023 and effective immediately.

The Veteran Support Fund will officially start on 1 January 2024. From this date, all sub-Branch charitable donations should be pooled through the VSF, and the DOC will be in place to report on disbursements.  In the meantime, the VSF is open and is receiving donations.

Is SOP1 and contributing to the Veteran Support Fund mandatory?

Yes, SOP1 is a mandatory procedure for sub-Branches to follow. ​

Any sub-Branch that chooses to make a charitable donation must do so via Veteran Support Fund (VSF), and sub-Branches choose how much and which initiatives they contribute to.​

SOP1 is important for the future health and relevance of the RSL in NSW. The procedure has been carefully designed in collaboration with sub-Branches and members, via the District Presidents’ Council.​

Contributing to the VSF is voluntary. ​

Under SOP1, sub-Branches can still fund local initiatives (not donations), and sub-Branches can choose not to make any charitable donations at all, and therefore not contribute to the VSF. ​

What are charitable funds?

As per clause 5.1 of the Constitution, funds held by a sub-Branch must only be used to pursue the Charitable Purpose (outlined in clause 3 of the Constitution), and therefore all funds held by a sub-Branch are charitable funds, including returns on investment. 

Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) compliance requires all charitable funds to be disbursed in alignment with the not-for-profit’s (in this case, RSL NSW’s) stated charitable purpose.

Our charitable purpose is to support veterans and their immediate families.

What’s the difference between a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation?
  • A charity needs to meet very specific or strict guidelines to qualify as a registered charity, whereas a non-profit may not register with the regulator to receive a ‘charitable status’.
  • Charitable entities receive benefits after they register with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
  • Being a registered charity is a ‘status’ rather than a structure. It’s also different to being not-for-profit.
  • A not-for-profit organisation doesn’t operate for the profit, personal gain or other benefit of its members, the people who run it, or any other people. Rather, any profit made is used to further the aims of the organisation (or if the organisation is a registered charity, its ‘charitable purposes’).

A VSF nominated initiative must be in support of registered charities and must align with our charitable purpose, which is outlined in Clause 3 of the RSL NSW Constitution.  At its most basic level, the charitable purpose is to support veterans and their families. Donations are made to registered charities.

Contributions to a not-for-profit organisation are an expenditure as they are not a registered charity. For example, local school activities like commemorations or financial support for Cadets may be allowable expenses under SOP1, 4.2.1 Allowable Administration Costs, but not donations.

Who decides whether an initiative is included in the Veteran Support Fund?

The District Presidents’ Council. ​

For 2024, which is year one, sub-Branches nominated initiatives for inclusion by submitting them to their respective District President by 30 September 2023. ​

For subsequent years, initiatives will be required to be submitted by 31 March.​

e.g. sub-Branch nominations for initiatives to District Presidents for 2025 will be required by 31 March 2024.​

Will the VSF initiatives funding period be accounted for as a calendar year or a financial year?

Sub-Branches operate under a calendar year and must include their proposed VSF donations within the annual budget for calendar year.

ANZAC House operates on a financial year and will contribute funding to VSF initiatives after each financial year end on 30 June, or as determined with individual initiative recipients. 

Sub-Branches nominate charitable initiatives and contribute surplus funds to the approved initiatives via the VSF. Sub-Branches can submit proposals to their District President at any time during the year. Submissions for the next year’s targets must be made before 31 March.

On 30 June, sub-Branch donations for the current year are closed. Approved initiatives and targets for the following year are published at rslnsw.org.au on 1 August.

Sub-Branches will consult members on which VSF initiatives they wish to donate to and include those in their 2024 Annual Budget, which is due for submission on 30 November.

For 2024 (implementation)

30 September 2023:
Sub-Branches submit proposals for initiatives and targets to their District Presidents.

24 October 2023:
DPC submits approved VSF initiatives and targets based on sub-Branch submissions for approval by RSL NSW Board.

1 November 2023:
VSF initiatives and targets published to assist sub-Branches to prepare their budgets.

30 November 2023:
Sub-Branches submit their 2024 budgets to ANZAC House, listing which VSF initiatives they will be supporting with charitable funds.

For 2025 and beyond

31 March
Sub-Branches submit proposals for initiatives and targets to their District Presidents.

RSL NSW Board meeting in July
DPC submits approved VSF initiatives and targets based on sub-Branch submissions, for approval by RSL NSW Board.

30 June
Donations for the 2024 initiatives are closed.

1 August
VSF initiatives and targets for 2025 are published.

30 November
Sub-Branches submit their 2025 (or beyond) budgets to ANZAC House, listing which VSF initiatives they will be supporting with charitable funds.

We’re starting to plan our 2024 budgets including donations now. When do we need to submit initiatives by for consideration by the DPC?

For possible inclusion in 2024, sub-Branches can submit initiatives to their District Presidents up until 30 September 2023.

On an ongoing basis, sub-Branches can submit proposals to their District Presidents at any time during the year, and submissions made after 31 March will be considered for inclusion by the DPC in the following year’s VSF targets.

e.g., Submissions made after 31 March 2024, will be considered for inclusion in 2026.

What form do sub-Branches need to use to submit Veteran Support Fund initiatives for consideration by the DPC?

Sub-Branches can submit initiatives to their District Presidents, by completing the Funding Proposal Form located in the sub-Branch portal:

  1. Log in to the sub-Branch portal.
  2. Click the SOP and Policies tile on the sub-Portal homepage.
  3. Click on Forms, and the Funding Proposal Form will be the top form.

When will the 2025 VSF initiatives and targets be finalised so we can plan our giving?

VSF initiatives and targets for 2025, will be published on 1 August 2024.​

Does an approved initiative need to be renominated for inclusion the following year?

It was confirmed by the DPC in February 2024, that any VSF initiatives that carry over to the following year/s will need to be re-submitted, but without the requirement for a full justification process.

Sub-Branches wishing to nominate initiatives for inclusion in the VSF for an upcoming year must complete the Funding Proposal Application Form and submit it to the District President on or before 31 March, even if that initiative has been approved in a previous year.

My sub-Branch provides funding, educational materials and financial support for local schools as well as to Cadets. Can we still do this?

Yes, but that is not a donation. Donations are made to registered charities. The examples of local school activities or financial support for Cadets may be allowable expenses under SOP1, 4.2.1 Allowable Administration Costs, but not donations. 

Your sub-Branch will need to be invoiced for these expenses.

Those sub-Branches that value education are encouraged to consider contributing to the VSF’s scholarships pool to support higher education opportunities for veterans.

How can we pay for school bands to play at our commemoration services?

School bands at commemoration events are an expense that aligns with our charitable purpose, not a donation. Expenses can be invoiced to and paid by sub-Branches.

My sub-Branch uses charitable funds to support ANZAC Day commemorations in a small town nearby. Can we continue to do this?

Yes, this is allowed under SOP1, 4.2 Charitable Activities undertaken within the sub-Branch, as long as the commemoration is taking place in your Local Community. ​

As per the ‘Funding the Charitable Purpose’ policy, Local Community is defined as:​

“Local Government Area (LGA) including LGAs within the District in which a sub-Branch operates.”​

My sub-Branch donates to other ex-service organisations (ESOs) such as the Vietnam Veterans’ Association/Vietnam Veterans’ Federation. Why can’t we continue supporting other ESOs?

This is incorrect – sub-Branches can continue to support other ESOs that are registered charities through the VSF. The example above, the Vietnam Veterans’ Association and Vietnam Veterans’ Federation, received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from RSL sub-Branches over the past two years. This change is not designed to reduce that charitable support, but to ensure it is visible, transparent and acknowledged with appropriate RSL brand recognition, and that members can understand the outcomes any charity achieves with RSL funding.

Donations to other ESOs could potentially increase as sub-Branches across the state start to make contributions to nominated initiatives.

What happens if an initiative is over-funded?

In the event that an initiative is funded beyond the target set for it, the DOC, on the CEO’s advice, may propose redistribution of excess funds to underfunded initiatives. The DOC, under its charter, is obligated to consult with donating sub-Branches before any redistribution to another initiative is agreed – and as funds will only ever be redistributed to initiatives that are part of the VSF, we can be sure that we are abiding by the regulations that govern the use of charitable funds. This process is explained in the DOC Charter.

Could redirecting surplus funds to other initiatives risk non-compliance with regulations governing charitable donations – along the lines of what we saw happen in 2020 when Celeste Barber raised funds for the NSW RFS?

The case with Celeste Barber’s 2020 fundraising was examined very carefully and considered when establishing the VSF. In that instance, Ms Barber nominated a NSW Government agency, the Rural Fire Service, and the Brigades’ Donation Fund Trust, as the beneficiary of donations.

The deed governing that Trust did not permit charitable donations to be spent on what Ms Barber told her followers the money would be spent on i.e. providing ‘bushfire relief’. So funding relief via the Trust, as she had proposed, was never possible.

In the case of RSL NSW, the CEO and the District Presidents’ Council are responsible for ensuring that all initiatives proposed by sub-Branches and approved for inclusion in the VSF align with our charitable purpose (Clause 3 of the Constitution), and will recommend that sub-Branches support the initiatives accordingly.

As all initiatives within the VSF are and will be aligned with our charitable purpose, even if funds are moved between overfunded and underfunded initiatives, any redistribution will meet our regulatory obligations.

We also have a rigorous process for decision-making around redistributions. In the event that an initiative is funded beyond the target set for it, the Donation Oversight Committee, on the CEO’s advice, may propose the redistribution of excess funds to underfunded VSF initiatives. The DOC, under its Charter, is obligated to consult with donating sub-Branches before any redistribution to another initiative of the VSF is agreed.

What is the difference between the Pooled Funding Model and The Veteran Support Fund?

The funding model is made up of two parts: the Aggregated Investment Management Service and the Veteran Support Fund. Under the first part, sub-Branches can establish an investment portfolio with Morgan Stanley. Find out more about that here. The second part, the Veteran Support Fund, aligns donations to our charitable purpose and combines our resources to achieve greater impact, such as our donation to our partner charity, veteran services provider RSL LifeCare Veteran Services.

What’s the difference between grants and donations?

There is no functional difference between a grant from charitable funds and a donation. Both must only be made to registered charities, and only via the VSF.

When will SOP1 be reviewed and adjustments made if necessary?

SOP1 will be reviewed in 2025. In the meantime, VSF dashboards are live on the RSL NSW website and are updated on a weekly basis to track contributions, and the DOC will publish performance reports on a quarterly basis.

What support is available to help us manage this change and ensure we are compliant?

The support team at ANZAC House is on hand to assist members and sub-Branch leaders with any questions. Contact us.

I have more questions – how can I talk with the ANZAC House team?

Each month, the RSL NSW leadership team including the CEO and CFO invite all members to attend an Ask ANZAC House Q&A session. ​

If you have questions or are just keen to listen in, join the next Ask ANZAC House – view dates and times for upcoming sessions here.​

You can also invite the team at ANZAC House to attend your next sub-Branch or District meeting or ask a question directly by contacting your Member Support Team at support@rslnsw.org.au or 1300 679 775.​

Click here to download a printable version of the FAQs.

Find all the documentation in the sub-Branch portal.

Log In

Join the next Ask ANZAC House online QA session​

Find out more

Understand the Pooled Funding Model (Investment management)

Read more

Implementation timeline

2020 RSL NSW Strategic Plan identifies opportunity to better align the use of charitable funds held by sub-Branches with our charitable purpose.
2021 District Presidents consult sub-Branches and members about their concerns and the opportunities to improve our donation practices.
23 Jun 2021 Redfern sub-Branch makes first contribution of $40,000 to the Veteran Support Fund (VSF) to support the RSL LifeCare initiative.​
2021-2022 District Presidents’ Council (DPC), ANZAC House and RSL NSW Board develop and refine Standard Operating Procedure 1 (SOP1) based on member feedback.​
Oct 2022 SOP1 is presented and discussed with sub-Branch representatives at RSL NSW State Congress.
Jun 2023 SOP1 finalised by DPC, ANZAC House and RSL NSW Board.
1 Jul 2023 SOP1 launches (mandatory for any donations by sub-Branches), and VSF commences to aggregate sub-Branch donations (sub-Branch donations are voluntary). CEO provides VSF donation targets for DPC consideration.​
30 Sep 2023 Sub-Branches submit proposals for initiatives and targets to the DPC.
24 Oct 2023 DPC submits approved VSF initiatives and targets based on sub-Branch submissions, for approval by the RSL NSW Board, through the CEO.
Oct 2023 Donations Oversight Committee representatives are confirmed.
1 Nov 2023 VSF initiatives and targets published to assist sub-Branches to prepare their budgets. In subsequent years, this step will be complete by 1 August.
1 Jan 2024 From this date, all sub-Branch donations are aggregated through the Veteran Support Fund and weekly updates reflect donations to the VSF and individual initiatives.​
2024 onwards DOC quarterly meetings commence. DOC reports on funds received and progress against targets.​