Fundraising regulations move towards some uniformity
Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh announced in February a set of sixteen nationally uniform fundraising principles developed by a Working Group of all states and territories, designed to reduce compliance costs for charities (which are estimated currently to exceed $1 million per month) and recognise changes in fundraising practice, from in person to online.
The purpose behind these principles is to provide charities and donors with a clear understanding of appropriate conduct, while still allowing for flexibility as to how charities achieve compliance.
Regulatory guidance to support the principles will be developed in collaboration with the charitable fundraising sector. That guidance has not yet been released.
The principles relate to ethical conducting of fundraising activities, due diligence, accurate reporting and record-keeping, complaints handling, privacy and remuneration. As the new principles do not address licencing, it may be presumed the current rules regarding the requirement to obtain an authority to conduct fundraising appeals will remain unchanged.
Each participating jurisdiction will release an implementation plan by July 2023 explaining how it will give effect to the principles through regulatory changes or legislation. Minister Leigh does not anticipate that the new rules will face hurdles passing their respective parliaments.
Until these principles are adopted, charities will need to continue complying with their current legislation, which in NSW, comprises the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991/Charitable Fundraising Regulation 2021,or, if ACNC registered, the ACNC Act.
Leigh says these principles will not expand the remit of the ACNC, meaning charities will not owe duplicate reporting obligations to ACNC and their state regulator ie NSW Fair Trading (and equivalent bodies in the other States/Territories regulating fundraising).
Shakvaan Wijetunga, Law Clerk
Josephine Heesh, Partner