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Rejected Donation Calls Fundraising Practices into Question

18 January 2019 at 4:37 pm
Maggie Coggan
A move by Beyond Blue to reject a donation raised via gay pornography has sparked discussion over fundraising rules and regulations.

Maggie Coggan | 18 January 2019 at 4:37 pm


Rejected Donation Calls Fundraising Practices into Question
18 January 2019 at 4:37 pm

A move by Beyond Blue to reject a donation raised via gay pornography has sparked discussion over fundraising rules and regulations.

David Marshall decided to raise money for Beyond Blue after his father committed suicide in 2016, following a long battle with depression.

However, Yahoo 7 reported on Wednesday that Marshall’s donation of $5,000 was rejected by Beyond Blue because raising money through pornography was against the organisation’s donation policy.

The donation was later accepted by the Black Dog Institute, who declined to comment further on the matter.

A spokesperson from Beyond Blue told Pro Bono News while they were humbled by the support of individuals who raised funds for it’s work, all fundraising work linked to product sales needed authorisation from the charity.

“Mr Marshall did not register his fundraising activity with Beyond Blue. Beyond Blue had accepted funds from Mr Marshall believing them to be personal donations,” the spokesperson said.

They also said it’s fundraising policy stated it did not accept proceeds from certain activities, including from the sale of pornography.

“We ask that community fundraisers register their activity with Beyond Blue so we can guide and support what they’re doing and ensure their fundraising activity aligns with Beyond Blue’s policy,” they said.

Katharine Raskob, CEO of the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA), told Pro Bono News rules and regulations around accepting donations were completely up to the charity and were determined by its values and what it was comfortable with.

“It’s totally up to the charity to refuse a donation where the activities of the donor are incompatible with the charities objector clause,” Raskob said.

“For example, it’s totally appropriate for a charity – if they were helping people who are struggling with gambling not to accept donations from clubs that do gambling.”

She said it was important the fundraiser investigated what the charity’s policies were before raising the money, whether it be a phone call to the charity, or visiting it’s website.

“We really believe that you should give to the purposes that you align with and that you really strongly believe in, but a conversation with the charity about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it can be helpful to alleviate that problem in the future,” she said.  

Sarah Davies, CEO of Philanthropy Australia, said while the issue was incredibly complex, as it came down to the charities’ values rather than rules and regulation, the charity needed to make sure its values were clear to the public.

“If charities are seeking money and support from people then I think it’s up to us to be clear about the context within which we want that and that includes the values,” Davies told Pro Bono News.

“That’s part of an organisation’s strategic process of identifying that.”

She said one of the reasons giving was hard was organisations or individuals often had to figure it out on their own, which is why collaboration between sectors was vital.

“That’s the benefit of organisations like Philanthropy Australia where we can bring together philanthropists and non-profits together to actually talk about this stuff and expose it, so we can evolve,” she said.

“That’s what makes the sort of membership organisations so effective because we can take ideas and best practice and frameworks and share them.”

Raskob said she didn’t believe there was a need to create a standardised set of regulations on what donations charities accept, but it was still important for charities to remain transparent about where they received donations from.

“One-size-fits-all is not going to work here because every charity will have its own views on the kinds of donations it will accept based on their purpose, so I don’t know that you could regulate that across the board,” she said.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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