Charities celebrate major fundraising reform win
13 December 2021 at 5:02 pm
Fundraising reform has been named one of the Australian government’s key priorities to reduce the burden of overlapping regulations
A major milestone has been reached in the charity sector’s long-running battle to fix fundraising rules, with states and territories committing to work with the Commonwealth to develop a national fundraising framework.
National Cabinet agreed on Friday to cut unnecessary red tape and duplication across different levels of government by reforming state and territory fundraising laws.
The nation’s treasurers – as part of the Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) – have pledged to develop a proposal for a national model fundraising framework.
Charities currently have to comply with inconsistent and outdated fundraising rules that differ from state to state (and the ACT).
Charity advocates have long fought for the repeal of these fragmented laws, and the implementation of a nationally consistent model for regulating fundraising activities.
Sue Woodward AM, chief adviser at Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service and a leading reform advocate, told Pro Bono News she was thrilled by the announcement.
She said it was especially meaningful because fixing fundraising – so often sidelined in the government reform agenda – was now one of the 10 projects prioritised in the national workplan to reduce the burden of overlapping regulations.
“It’s a win because for the first time… we have all Australian governments signed up to fix fundraising,” Woodward said.
“So we have buy-in at the highest level and we’ll be able to hold them accountable for delivering [fundraising reform].
“It’s pleasing to see that it is now one of the top 10 priorities. [This means] public servant time and energy will be put to it because they will be required to bring forward a proposal as quickly as possible in the new year.”
Last year, a cross-border recognition model was announced to provide a single fundraising registration point for charities.
This means charities would no longer have to register in multiple jurisdictions when raising funds nationally.
While this was a big win for the sector last year, Woodward said that was only part one of the reform process.
She said this latest announcement went beyond simply fixing registration issues.
“This is the second and final part, which is about all the details on how you conduct your fundraising activities,” she said.
“At the moment it’s a complete dog’s breakfast. There’s no one set of exemptions. There’s no one set of rules about various things including those that affect face-to-face fundraising – the current rules get right down to the font size on name badges.
“And this sort of messy detail is holding the sector back. We need to be able to streamline and have a nationally consistent framework, which is what they’ve resolved to do.”
The sector is still waiting on further details about how the development of the proposal will work including the timeline for completion.
But the fix fundraising coalition has vowed to help with the process, having already put forward a variety of ways reform can be achieved.
Woodward noted that advocates have recently put together the Australian Fundraising Principles, which are designed to complement existing self-regulatory fundraising codes, and do not require any extra compliance from charities.
She said these principles would ensure ethical fundraising practice and would be one way to achieve national consistency and get rid of all the messy, outdated rules that are hurting charities.
Regardless of how the proposal takes shape, Woodward said it needed to be implemented urgently by mid-2022.
“We don’t think there needs to be a whole drawn out consultation process. The sector has done hundreds of submissions to multiple inquiries and given ideas about how this can be done,” she said.
“We think it is very much getting down to the detail and getting the right people in the room to discuss the pros and cons of different models and focusing on getting the principles right.
“We would certainly like that to be implemented well and truly in the first half of next year, and that’s very achievable.”