Harmonisation – the key to fundraising red tape regulation
9 November 2020 at 6:08 pm
Katherine Raskob explains why FIA believes seeking harmonisation and not a national fundraising scheme is the best way to reduce red tape for fundraisers.
In late October, the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements released its long-awaited report. Alongside several welcome recommendations on how charities should fundraise in times of natural disaster, it recommended a national fundraising scheme as the way to reduce red tape for fundraisers. This is not, nor has it ever been, supported by Fundraising Institute Australia.
Working together provides better outcomes
Since the Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21 Century found that a national statutory scheme for fundraising was not the best solution, FIA has been working with its members and state and federal governments to avoid creating more red tape and expense for fundraising organisations.
From our extensive consultation and dealings with the states, we are acutely aware that expecting them to totally abolish their own fundraising regulations is unrealistic. Their laws stretch back a hundred years in some cases. We believe that positive reform can only be achieved with their cooperation and with a harmonisation or cross-jurisdictional approach.
When the Senate Select Committee handed down their report in 2019, it agreed with the FIA recommendation to establish a two-year timetable for fundraising reform. The committee also agreed with FIA’s approach to seeking harmonisation as the way forward noting: “any solution will necessarily involve the input and cooperation of state and territory governments”.
FIA also suggested fundraisers satisfy their permit/licensing requirements by providing the necessary information to the national charity’s regulator, the ACNC, which would act as a kind of “clearing house” for the information and the data, channelling it back to the states for oversight purposes. This model, if adopted by all states and territories, would facilitate a one-stop fundraising application process, so that charities would only have to register in one place, while the states can retain their interest and oversight.
There is progress – but more to do
In early September, the Commonwealth government released a discussion paper on a proposed cross-border recognition model. It has been working with the states, including the ACT, and led by New South Wales, on fast tracking the work required for fundraising harmonisation.
The discussion paper builds on work across states and territories to cut red tape, including streamlining requirements for charities with state reporting requirements. They are suggesting that charities only report once to the ACNC in participating jurisdictions and encouraging the use of a charity passport to reduce the requirement of charities to report to multiple regulators.
In the last couple of years, South Australia, the ACT, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia have all made changes that reduce the burden – these are fantastic steps. The next step in harmonisation is harder but is key.
Guidance on best practice in times of natural disasters
Looking at the other recommendations from the report, FIA has already taken a leadership position by developing a new practice note, as part of the FIA Code, to guide FIA members and the broader fundraising community in fundraising for, and during, national disasters. The practice note calls on fundraisers to be accountable to donors, honest and accurate in their fundraising communications, to be extra mindful of people in vulnerable circumstances, and to report back as soon as possible to donors on the impact of their donation during a crisis.
On behalf of its members, FIA will continue to work with the states and territories and the Commonwealth government in a collegiate and helpful way to see the outcomes we all want – the reduction of red-tape fundraising organisations in Australia.