Your charity needs to raise funds that it can use towards running its activities. You have a great idea for a fundraiser but are unsure where to begin. To help navigate through the treacherous legal waters, we have set out a checklist below about what to think about when hosting an event and what laws may apply.

Location

Is this a raffle for a local tennis club or a nationwide tin collection? It’s important that you know where your fundraiser is going to operate because there are different fundraising laws in each state and territory. You will need to comply with these as part of your fundraiser.

Promotion

Will you advertise online or engage volunteers in promoting the event? It is important to think about how people are going to hear about your fundraiser and what they are going to hear or see. Any representation that you make about your fundraiser and how you will use the funds must be transparent and honest. This is because Australian Consumer Law affects the way you can advertise or market some fundraising activities.

Trade Promotion

A trade promotion is a competition where there is no cost or a minimal cost to enter and a prize is offered. Usually, entry is provided as part of someone purchasing a product or ticket. These include door prizes, surveys and other promotional competitions and can have an element of skill or are based purely on chance. It is important to know whether you are conducting a trade promotion because special laws apply in each state or territory.

Raffle and Gaming Activities

These fundraisers will include a situation where the donor purchases a ticket or pays money to enter into a game or competition. The types of activities included are raffles, bingo, gaming nights, lotteries, sweepstakes or lucky envelopes. Like trade promotions, you need to know whether what you are doing is a gaming activity because additional laws apply in each state or territory.

Prizes and Products

The value of your prize pool will determine what type of licence or permit you require. You should also know what products you are selling and the manufacturer. If the products are faulty or there are any issues, Australian Consumer Law will apply, and you need to know what your obligations are.  

Running an Event

If you are running an event you need to know what type of event it is and what you will need to provide for it to run smoothly. You will need to consider the venue as well as food and drink. You will also need to make sure that you have appropriate staffing as well as WHS and emergency procedures in place.

Licenses and Permits

You may need to apply to local or state government authorities for the right licenses to run the event. Licenses and permits can apply to:

  • gaming activities;
  • trade promotions;
  • selling food and drink;
  • providing catering;
  • providing alcohol;
  • selling alcohol;
  • booking public spaces;
  • road closures;
  • working with children;
  • loud activities; and
  • providing entertainment.

Timeframes

You need to know how long your fundraiser will run for and how long it will take to organise the whole event. You also need to consider how long you need to apply for any permits or licenses. 

Records

You will need to keep records of the money you spend setting up the fundraiser as well as the donations your organisation receives. Some fundraising licenses and permits require that you keep accounts of the fundraiser and audit them, so, at a minimum, you need to keep accurate accounts for your fundraiser.

Reporting

Another reason why you should keep accurate accounts of a fundraiser is that your charity has to report the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) each year. You may also have to report to ASIC or a State Government body every year depending on your legal structure. You need to make sure that your fundraising is part of your yearly accounts and included in your financial reporting.

Key Takeaways
There are many things to think about when setting up an event. Provided you have thought about what you are going to be doing and how it’s going to work, you can ensure that you comply with the relevant laws. You can read more about crowdfunding and charities on the ACNC website.

Sam Auty
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