Fundraising activities are regulated at the state level. Most states and territories in Australia require organisations that intend to carry out fundraising activities to abide by certain compliance rules and to have valid fundraising licences/registrations with a regulating body. These licenses/registrations are generally only valid in the state or territory where they are issued. Within the state of Victoria, fundraising is regulated by the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic) (Fundraising Act). This article sets out how to fundraise in Victoria.
Broadly defined in the Fundraising Act, fundraising takes place where a person solicits or receives money or a benefit not for a commercial benefit. Per section 17A of the Fundraising Act, any organisation that undertakes fundraising must register as a fundraiser with Consumer Affairs Victoria, unless they are an exempt organisation. Registration lasts three years before it has to be renewed. An exempt organisation is one that, amongst other things, receives less than $10,000 (gross) in a financial year from its fundraising activities, is not paid for conducting fundraisers and only utilises unpaid volunteers.
Parts 2 and 3 of the Fundraising Act set out the provisions that apply to fundraising appeals. At a general level, we note that organisations that engage in fundraising activities must comply with a range of requirements, including the following:
- register the organisation as a fundraiser with Consumer Affairs Victoria using the prescribed forms (namely the Application for Fundraising Registration or Renewal and the Criminal Record and Personal Insolvency Declaration);
- nominate a Victorian address as the organisation’s principal place of business;
if the organisation plans to distribute money overseas, provide verification from either the government, local embassy or consulate of the country/s in which the funds will be distributed, the Australian embassy in the county where the money will be distributed, or a recognised aid provider in the area;
- keep accurate financial records in accordance with Part 3 of the Fundraising Act.
complete an annual return form every 12 months;
- clearly identify and notify Consumer Affairs Victoria of the cause for which the appeal will be conducted, the beneficiaries of the appeal and changes to the organisations constitution, its management, contact personnel or beneficiaries; and
- clearly, disclose what percentage of proceeds will be distributed to beneficiaries; and
renew its registration at least 28 days before it is due to expire.
Please note that Consumer Affairs Victoria can impose special conditions on organisations that do not distribute all of the raised proceeds to their nominated beneficiaries. In certain circumstances, Consumer Affairs Victoria may even ask the organisation to ‘show cause’ as to why they should be permitted to be registered as a fundraiser. This will particularly be the case where less than 35% of the total fundraising proceeds are distributed to the organisation’s nominated beneficiaries.
If you would like to know more about fundraising in the state of Victoria or other Australian jurisdictions, call our team of LegalVision lawyers to see how we can help. We would be happy to answer any queries that you may have.