Foodbanking - 'Charity' by Definition?
30 April 2001 at 1:04 pm
Foodbanks around Australia may not technically fit into the definition of a ‘charity’ leaving their services in limbo, operating between the commercial sector and those considered technically to be charities.
That’s the problem outlined by Foodbank Australia to the Federal Government’s Charities Inquiry.
Foodbank Australia’s submission says a change in the current definition could bring major benefits to both corporate Australia and those in need in the community.
The submission prepared by John O’Donnell from the Kadmos Group in Western Australia says Foodbanking around the country under the current definition of ‘charity’ is uncertain and this is a limiting factor in their ability to increase support and deliver optimal value in the future.
Foodbanks are non-denominational, independent and Not for Profit organisations that provided more than 4.5 million kilograms of food to over 1,400 agencies across Australia last year alone. The food had an approximate retail value in excess of $30 million with the demand for food continuing to grow.
The first Foodbank in Australia was established in Sydney in 1992. There are now Foodbanks in Queensland, new South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Foodbank Australia was formed in 1996 as a national body to act as the intermediary between the firms wanting to donate food to needy Australians rather than dumping it and welfare agencies wanting to distribute the food at the same time reducing the financial burden on those welfare agencies.
The submission says that since Foodbanks are one step removed from the end-service delivery step, then they may not technically fit into the definition of ‘charity’.
It says that this could mean that Foodbanks across Australia are operating while carrying risks that would otherwise not be the case if they were considered to be a charity.
John O’Donnell told the inquiry that clarification of the status of all organisations in a similar position in the charity food supply chain would enable Foodbanking to increase the potential support from corporate Australia and in turn benefit those in the community in need.
He says food companies would have added incentive to provide food to the network particularly if the donation in relation to taxation is clearer than it is now and philanthropic organisations would see Foodbanks at least as favourably as they do other ‘charities’ under the current definition.
If you have an opinion on this submission or any others join the Pro Bono Australia online forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.
The Charities Inquiry web site is at www.cdi.gov.au.