Here are some steps you can take before you donate to or offer to volunteer with a charity during an emergency in Australia or overseas. These steps can help you to minimise risk and to find charities that are required to be accountable to the ACNC or other agencies, such as state fundraising regulators.
1. Look for a charity on the ACNC Charity Register
Search the ACNC Charity Register by name, Australian Business Number or state or territory of operation. If a charity appears on the Charity Register it has met our requirements for registration under the ACNC Act and has ongoing obligations, including annual reporting.
- Registration as a charity is not compulsory and an organisation does not need to be a registered charity to legitimately fundraise.
- Some charities may be registered but have permission from us to have some of their information withheld.
- Registered charities are eligible to receive charity tax concessions, but not all registered charities can accept tax deductible gifts.
2. Check with your state or territory fundraising regulator
Each state and territory has its own fundraising regulator. Check on the fundraising register of your state or territory fundraising regulator to see if a charity you are interested in supporting is registered to fundraise in your location.
3. Check if there is a state or territory government-endorsed public appeal
In an emergency, state and territory governments will sometimes endorse a charity or not-for-profit to coordinate a public appeal to support a response to a natural disaster.
4. Contact the charity itself and ask what kind of support may be needed
While donations of money are always very welcome during natural disasters, charities may also be in need of non-perishable foods, blankets and other forms of support. Make sure to check with the charity first before making any donations.
5. Check for known scams and reduce your risk
While the vast majority of charities are working hard to support victims of natural disasters, there are examples of individuals taking the opportunity to set up scams. Scammers may approach you in person, over the phone or by sending fraudulent emails or letters.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent a charity, you can ask to call them back. Search for the charity on the ACNC Register and use the phone number published there.
- Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails – delete them.
- Do not provide your personal, credit card or online bank account details over the phone.
- Always ask for identification from door-to-door and street fundraising collectors.
- If you think that there is something wrong, contact the charity directly and alert them of your concerns. You can also contact the ACNC on 13 ACNC (13 22 62).
Visit Australian Government’s SCAMwatch website for a list of known scams and information on how to avoid scams.
You can do the same checks above for charities providing relief during overseas emergencies. Generally, cash donations are preferred to goods, but you can ask the charity.
You can also check to see if the charity is an Australian Council For International Development (ACFID) member.
ACFID members are signatories to a Code of Conduct. Also, during emergency appeals, ACFID checks their members’ emergency appeals website to make sure they are complying with transparency and accountability requirements. The Code of Conduct has an independent complaints mechanism should any member of the public believe that a member is breaching the Code.