As detailed in our FAQ pages, the ADA preserves its independence, non-partisan integrity and institutional transparency by, among other things, being primarily financed by membership subscriptions and by fundraising activities that are carefully regulated to preclude conflicts of interest. Such fundraising chiefly involves sponsorships, donations and bequests.
The public-interest watchdog work of the Australia Defence Association is financed entirely by:
- membership subscriptions;
- institutional, library and corporate subscriptions to our publications;
- limited advertising in our journal and bulletin (to help defray the costs of their production and distribution);
- advertising on the ADA website;
- reproduction fees and copyright royalties from our publications and research reports;
- research, consultancy or teaching tasks undertaken by members voluntarily on the Association's behalf (and in keeping with our strict disclosure and transparency rules);
- sponsorships, donations and bequests from civic-minded and concerned Australians and Australian institutions who believe that public education, and vibrant and informed public debate, on defence and wider national security issues is important.
Independence, accountability and transparency
To reinforce our independence, accountability and transparency we do not accept other than standard membership fees and nominal donations (capped at $A5000 annually in total) from commercial entities seeking to sell weapons, equipment or services to the defence force or the Department of Defence. Our research and advocacy efforts are also not directed or otherwise influenced by our corporate members or donors.
Our publications do not seek, accept or publish advertorial-type articles.
Our public stances and lobbying on defence matters are undertaken on the objective merits of the issue concerned and are not influenced by the receipt or non-receipt of donations from any source.
No grant, donor or consultancy funding from government
We do not seek or accept any grant or donor funding from the Australian Government, any political party or any type of overseas source. To further reinforce our independent integrity, we do not bid for, accept or otherwise undertake any paid consultancy work for the Australian Government.
We are the only public think-tank in the defence and wider national security field in Australia that is sustained by our public membership and our public activities. We are also the only one not essentially reliant on direct or indirect federal government funding and commercially-directed financing.
We regard this strict degree of independence as essential to the integrity and transparency of our public-interest guardianship activities.
The funding we receive from Australian Government sources is quite limited, of the standard categories to be expected, and much less than that received by many other public organisations in Australian society. Such indirect funding comprises:
- standard institutional subscriptions for our publications by some government departments, agencies, libraries and educational institutions;
- standard visiting lecturer fees when our staff undertake occasional teaching at tertiary education institutions or other courses;
- the occasional reimbursement of minor administrative and travel expenses when the ADA is invited (along with other organisations) to participate in consultative fora and similar activities convened by government departments or agencies.
No party-political or overseas funding
We do not make donations to any Australian or foreign political party, solicit such donations or accept donations from political parties. We do not pay affiliation fees to any Australian (or foreign) political party or political organisation.
Transparent fundraising and recruiting
As a fully public organisation we recruit our members openly and directly and not through intermediaries. We reserve the right to refuse membership fees or donations if we consider this involves a conflict of interest with the impartial objectives and public education work of the Association as an independent, non-partisan, community-based, public-interest guardian organisation.
We do not employ the services of professional fundraisers or agents.
All donations to fund our activities are sought by the ADA directly and used to finance our independent research or public-interest advocacy except where a donor specifies it be invested in our endowment accounts as capital. The capital in our endowment accounts is preserved and invested only in long-term deposits with our bank. The interest earned on such sums is either reinvested as capital or used to fund our operations (depending on our cash flows at the time).
We are not a charity, overseas aid fund, educational institution, environmental protection group or registered political party so donations to the ADA do not currently have deductible gift recipient status under the Taxation Act. We have applied for DGR status in line with that granted to other policy think-tanks in the foreign policy and national security field. Our application has been supported by the Minister for Defence and the Assistant Treasurer.
However, because of our established status as an informed contributor to public debate on defence and wider national security affairs, ADA membership fees are recognised by the Australian Taxation Office as a legitimate professional or business expense for individuals or tax-paying entities who are academically, professionally or commercially involved in such matters.
Public sponsorship of designated ADA programs and activities can also be deductible for the sponsor as a business expense. Such sponsorships must still fit under our overall $5000 cap for financing from companies commercially involved with the Department of Defence and must comply with our general rules preventing conflicts of interest.
As a registered not-for-profit entity under the Corporations Act and the Taxation Act the Association does not pay dividends or distributions of any kind. This is enshrined in our Constitution (Articles 13-14).
The bulk of our annual expenditure (just over nine dollars in every ten) is devoted to our ongoing public-interest guardianship activities, chiefly research, public education, public-oversight monitoring of relevant policies and activities by the Australian government and public-interest advocacy.
Administrative and corporate expenses comprise the remainder and are traditionally under eight per cent of our expenditure.
Members of our board of directors serve in an honorary capacity and receive no remuneration for their contributions of time, effort and expertise. The interstate travel and accommodation costs involved with their attendance at board meetings are met by the Association.
As a registered not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act, our accounts are fully audited, submitted annually to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and are publicly available.