Australia Charity law: Charity fundraising regulation reform

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Treasury has issued a discussion paper – Charitable fundraising regulation reform on 12 February 2012.

The discussion paper and accompanying Fact Sheet can be found at: http://www.treasury.gov.au/contentitem.asp?NavId=037&ContentID=2297

The proposal is that Charities undertaking fundraising of over $50,000 pa would need to comply with the national fundraising regulation. With respect, we suggest that this is too low.

The proposed regulation includes requirements:

  • To provide the ABN of the charity and ACNC contact details at the point of donation
  • To issue a receipt at the point of donation
  • Not to engage in prohibited conduct (including harassment and coercion)
  • To provide information about whether the collector is paid (e.g. a staff member)
  • If the collector is third party fundraiser, to specify the amount of the donation that will ultimately be received by the charity.

There are some proposed exemptions. Paragraph 18 of the Discussion Paper sets them out as follows:

“A number of activities are unlikely to raise significant concerns.  Accordingly, the following activities might be exempt from fundraising regulation:

  • Soliciting for government grants – on the basis that governments can require information and regular reporting on the outcomes from funding provided to charities.
  • Corporate donations or donations from public and private ancillary funds – on the basis that these entities are likely to be better placed than an individual member of the public to conduct due diligence before donating to a potential recipient.
  • Workplace appeals for assistance for colleagues and their families – on the basis that the recipients of such funds are usually personally known to at least a significant proportion of the donors.
  • Donations to religious organisations from their own members – also on the basis that the recipients of such funds are usually personally known to at least a significant proportion of the donors.”

In relation to “donations to religious organisations”, we suggest that the exemption should not be limited to donations “from their own members” as churches for example will regularly “fundraise” in the following ways:

  • Offerings / plate money – which may be voluntarily given by anyone attending an activity of the church. They may not be a “member”.
  • Fetes and other community focused events.

We also suggest that some forms of small scale fund raising by any type of charity (e.g. schools) need to be exempt (e.g. Fetes).

Submissions on the Discussion Paper have been invited by Treasury and need to be made by 5 April 2012. If you would like our assistance with a submission, please contact us.

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