We’re on the way to finally #FixFundraising
10 Sep 2020
A working group of states and territories has, with government support, issued a discussion paper about ensuring cross-border recognition of charitable fundraising licences. We welcome this proposal as a way of creating a one-step process (rather having to apply for seven different licences). But there are some wriggle words in the paper that could mean very little change if states use them to impose additional requirements.
What do the proposed changes mean?
Under the proposed model, a charity already registered with the ACNC would be deemed to hold a local fundraising authority in each participating state or territory. While we are watching that those wiggle words are not implemented, we’re pleased by this progress and will keep campaigning for a full solution to Australia’s fundraising law problem.
We participated in a stakeholder consultation forum today, and feel our concerns have been heard. We’re pleased that there were so many of the states plus the ACNC on the call, ready to listen to us and other charities. There was strong consensus about the benefits of a single licencing system as well as strong encouragement to keep this new dialogue open so further progress can be made on other aspects like reporting and rules about how fundraising can be conducted (ie, to really #FixFundraising). We need to make sure that simply putting a ‘donate’ button on a charity’s website doesn’t trigger seven disparate laws!
What is being said about this development?
In a recent media release, Senator Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters said, ‘The Commonwealth is conscious of the differing regulatory requirements for charitable fundraising across the states. The proposed cross-border recognition model would reduce the burden on the charitable sector which is currently facing reduced donations and greater reliance on online fundraising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.’
Our Head of Not-for-profit Law, Sue Woodward, told Pro Bono Australia that ‘The greatest red tape burden and confusion is with the other parts of the regulation, as most jurisdictions have already aligned licensing with the ACNC, or indicated an intention to head in that direction. We look forward to being around the table with all the regulators to hear their plans for harmonising these requirements, because that is what we need to be sure we have actually fixed the fundraising quagmire.’
Why do we need to #FixFundraising?
Australia’s regulations around fundraising are confusing, outdated and difficult to navigate. Each state has different rules that fundraisers need to follow, meaning that fundraisers are often too stuck in red tape to get on with their purpose: raising money for charity. As more charities are raising money online and across state borders, the need for unified and harmonised fundraising regulation has never been more urgent.
What is the #FixFundraising coalition asking for?
The #FixFundraising coalition and its supporters call on federal, state, and territory governments to implement a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime by:
- Passing amendments to the Australian Consumer Law to ensure its application to fundraising activities for and on behalf of charities (and other not-for-profit organisations) is clear and broad
- Repealing the existing fragmented State and ACT fundraising laws
- Working with Australian Consumer Law regulators, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, self-regulatory bodies and sector intermediaries to draft and consult publicly on a core mandatory code to be enforced under the Australian Consumer Law multi-regulatory framework
We believe that the proposed change is a step in the right direction, but will campaign to make sure that that we have modern, fit-for-purpose fundraising laws so charities can get the funds they need to do their important work. The deadline to file submissions in response to the discussion paper is 18 September 2020.