NSW Fair Trading: fundraising requirements and compliance during COVID-19
Charities operating in NSW must hold an authority to fundraise and are expected to comply with relevant legislative requirements in regards to fundraising. While it is expected that some authority holders will be impacted by COVID-19, entities are still expected to do their best to comply with obligations under the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 (NSW) (‘the Act’) wherever possible.
In 2019, NSW Fair Trading published updated guidelines for charitable fundraising. While an entity must follow Licence conditions and meet obligations under the Act, the guidelines can be a useful resource, particularly when ambiguities arise. The guidelines help to clearly explain the requirements and obligations of fundraisers in NSW, setting out the regulatory framework and providing further guidance on charitable purpose and conducting online fundraising appeals.
One of the issues dealt with in the new guidelines is the definition of a ‘Trader’. This is particularly important for businesses working directly with charities during the present crisis, to donate a percentage of sales of a certain product to charity. The guidelines clarify that this relationship is covered by the Trader provisions (see section 11) under the Act and is not merely a donation to the charity.
NSW Fair Trading have also published a COVID-19 Statement of Regulatory Intent, which also applies to conduct under the Act and outlines the current approach for dealing with fundraisers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Entities that expect to have difficulties complying with requirements under the Act are directed to contact NSW Fair Trading. Where compliance with deadlines for lodging financial reports or with annual auditing requirements are affected by the current crisis, Fair Trading will be supportive and educative in dealing with non-compliance. However, authority holders are expected to document efforts to comply and otherwise continue to comply with their fundraising (and other) obligations wherever possible.