Voluntary Transparency Code for Disaster Relief Fundraising
Over the past few months, the east coast of Australia has been battered by rain and floods. Thousands of Australians have been affected, leading to a number of organisations and charities raising funds to assist those impacted. In July 2021, the Federal Government sought feedback from stakeholders on the implementation of a voluntary code to improve the transparency of the use of charitable donations during natural disasters. This Code would provide charities who choose to sign up with a framework for transparent reporting of disaster recovery fundraising and activities.
During the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20, charities were criticised for a failure to provide adequate transparency as to where donations were going as well as not delivering donations to affected communities in a shorter timeframe. The potential implementation of this code would seek to address this issue by improving accountability to donors through reporting of the use of donations in response to natural disasters.
Charity representatives and Treasury officials have identified five features which they believe to be critical to achieving the objectives of the Transparency Code. These are as follows:
- The Transparency Code will require that signatories publish an appeal intent outlining how donated funds will be used in response to the natural disaster.
- The Transparency Code will prescribe specific information for signatories to report.
- The Transparency Code will set out minimum reporting frequencies for signatories to meet.
- The Transparency Code will be voluntary and target charities involved in the response to a natural disaster and in receipt of substantial public donations.
- The Commonwealth will facilitate but not administer or enforce the Transparency Code, with compliance driven by signatories.
While the consultation period ended in August 2021, charities and Not-for-profits should be aware that the feedback provided during the consultation period will inform a report to the Government on key elements of the Transparency Code.
Additionally, charities and Not-for-profits should endeavour to remain transparent in all of their fundraising activities. For more information on the Transparency Code, click here:
Benjamin Zmeshkal, Paralegal/Law Clerk