Victoria's Fundraising Appeals Act
15 April 2002 at 1:04 pm
Special Report by Karen Burr
Recent amendments to the Victorian Fundraising Appeals Act have been put under the magnifying glass by Not for Profit organisations across the state.
Some 120 guests at a Victorian Fundraising Institute – Australia luncheon heard the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Christine Campbell MP, speak on the changes to the Act.
“This is a new era in fundraising in Victoria,” Campbell said. “The new rules are about ensuring Victorians can donate confidently and without question that their donation will reach the intended cause.”
The Minister said that the amended Act would assist the Government in making fundraising and Not for Profit organisations transparent, ethical and accountable.
As Pro Bono Australia reported in November last year (Vol 4 Ed 10), the new legislation was conceived with the intention of reducing red tape for smaller charities, while cracking down on unscrupulous operators.
The Minister gave examples of two so called “shonky” operators that were investigated by Consumer Affairs Victoria last year.
She said the Bracks Government would not tolerate organisations that deceive the public. “Whilst we realise the number of bogus charities in Victoria is small, the impact one bad apple can have is catastrophic,” she said.
One of the key tools of the new era is the Online Public Register of approved Victorian fundraisers. “The register is designed to allow the public to check whether fundraisers are registered, their credentials and details of the beneficiary so that they know where their money is going to,” Campbell said.
According to the Government the Public Register will considerably reduce the administrative burden of fundraising for smaller volunteer organisations who raise less than $10,000 per year and who now don’t have to register with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Also, under the new scheme, it is not necessary for registered organisations to notify Consumer Affairs each time they intend to conduct a new appeal.
In question time at the luncheon, fundraisers were keen to know whether the need to register extends to corporations and other third parties who conduct fundraising appeals on behalf of Not for Profit organisations.
Sue McClellan, Assistant Director of Consumer Affairs, was on hand to join the Minister in answering questions. McClellan advised that in the case of a corporation assisting a Not for Profit organisation to raise money, the corporation would be required to register as they were by law no different to a professional fundraiser.
This is true even where a corporation or third party promotes or publicises an organisation to the public. The corporation may not have conducted a fundraising appeal on that organisation’s behalf, but they are still required to register under the new legislation.
The Minister and McClellan emphasised that they were keen to see the implementation of national legislation similar to Victoria’s Fundraising Appeals Act. This would assist Not for Profit organisations with operations across many states.
To investigate the possibility of taking a more National approach to the regulation of fundraising, Ian Clyde from Consumer Affairs Victoria is working with the Standing Committee of Officials of Consumer Affairs (SCOCA).
The SCOCA consists of all chief executive officers of consumer protection agencies nationally and is a sub-committee of the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs.
As a basis for discussion, Clyde has requested an answer to the question: Would fundraisers find it helpful if they had to obtain one permission to fundraise, which would then be accepted in every other state and territory?
Not for Profit organisations, especially those with national operations, are asked to comment directly to Clyde on (03) 9627 6090 or via email to email@example.com Make sure you cc: Pro Bono Australia to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can track the story as it unfolds.
Also, you can be sure your opinion counts by voting in our online poll about the possibility of obtaining one nationally-recognised permission to fundraise.
Copies of the amended Victorian Fundraising Appeals Act and answers to relevant FAQs are available online at www.consumer.vic.gov.au
What is your opinion of the amended Fundraising Appeals Act and its impact on your organisation? Let us know your point of view by joining our online Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.
Note: Karen Burr is a member of the Pro Bono Australia e-Newsletter team and will present special reports from time to time.