The federal government says it is working with states and territories to fast-track the harmonisation of fundraising
A cross-border recognition fundraising model put forward by governments has been welcomed by sector advocates, but they say more substantial reforms are needed to fix Australia’s “fundraising quagmire”.
The Charitable Fundraising National Working Group has released a discussion paper examining how to reduce regulatory burdens for charitable fundraisers that operate across Australia.
The group has proposed a model that would allow a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) to be automatically given authority to fundraise in all participating Australian states and territories.
This would mean charities no longer need to complete an individual application process in each jurisdiction – making it much easier to conduct online appeals across the country.
The assistant minister for charities, Senator Zed Seselja, said this was a significant step on the path towards fundraising harmonisation and red-tape reduction for the charity sector.
He said he has worked with state counterparts on the issue of fundraising, and was pleased to see the paper’s release.
“The proposed cross-border recognition model would reduce the burden on the charitable sector which is currently facing reduced donations and greater reliance on online fundraising due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Seselja said.
“We have been working to fast-track the harmonisation of fundraising, particularly with New South Wales who are leading the states in work on the cross-border recognition model.”
Charity advocates have long fought for the repeal of fragmented state and territory fundraising laws, and the implementation of a nationally consistent model for regulating fundraising activities.
Sue Woodward, who has led the fight as head of Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service, told Pro Bono News that she welcomed the latest proposal.
She said #FixFundraising supporters were pleased that their voice has been heard about one part of the red tape burden.
“What’s not to like about only having to get one licence rather than seven,” Woodward said.
“[It is] totally sensible and great that state, territory and federal governments are affirming the role of the ACNC as the single point for charitable fundraising registration.
“Getting a licence is the first step to being able to fundraise and, with COVID-19 being the new norm, all groups need to consider online fundraising. So this single licence reform can’t come soon enough.”
But she noted that while this was a good start, doing this and nothing more would be a bad result.
The discussion paper proposal would still allow states to impose “additional conditions” on the charities, even if they already have a license.
And the disparate and inconsistent audit and reporting requirements of the states and territories could still be applied on top of ACNC reporting obligations.
Woodward said we needed this cross-border co-operation to become a commitment to create “a road map for actually fixing the major part of the problem”.
“The greatest red tape burden and confusion is with the other parts of the regulation, as most jurisdictions have already aligned licensing with the ACNC, or indicated an intention to head in that direction,” she said.
“We look forward to being around the table with all the regulators to hear their plans for harmonising these requirements, because that is what we need to be sure we have actually fixed the fundraising quagmire.”
The full discussion paper can be viewed here.