As New South Wales and Queensland flood waters subside, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is urging the public to do a quick online check of a charity’s credentials before donating.

ACNC Commissioner the Hon Dr Gary Johns said there are many legitimate charities on the ACNC Charity Register raising funds for those impacted by the recent floods. However he said it is important to exercise caution, as there are reports of scammers trying to take advantage of people’s goodwill.

“We are concerned to see media reports about scammers seeking to exploit the community’s generosity in the wake of the floods in NSW and Queensland. It is all too common, unfortunately, for scams to spring up following disasters. Scammers pretend to represent a charity raising money to help people in need when actually they are fraudsters trying to make a buck for themselves,” Dr Johns said.

“It is crucial to do a quick online check of our Charity Register before giving, to make sure your donation is going to an organisation that genuinely does good work. And it only takes a minute. You enter the organisation’s name in the Charity Register, and if it is a registered charity, you will see a snapshot of its activities, its purpose, who it helps, where it operates and some key financial details.

“While it is important to be generous to support people in need after a disaster, it is also important to give with confidence. As the regulator, the ACNC is watching over the sector to maintain confidence.

“There were 400,000 searches of the register in March, perhaps in part due to the floods. We know that there were more than 3 million searches of the Charity Register last financial year, which shows a growing awareness of how valuable a resource the register is for donors who would like to check the legitimacy of a charity before they make a donation,” Dr Johns said.

The ACNC's top tips for safe giving include:

  • Before giving, check a charity’s credentials on the ACNC website Charity Register
  • Look for established and registered charities that are running verified flood appeals.
  • If you get a call from someone claiming to be from a charity, ask to call them back. Search the Charity Register and call back using the phone number published there.
  • If donating to a charity via a third-party crowdfunding campaign, be aware the charity is bound by its own rules in the way it spends donated funds, not by a third-party’s promises.
  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails and social media posts. It is safer to visit a charity’s website to avoid clicking a link to an imitation website.
  • Don’t give out your credit card and bank account details on social media, and be cautious when doing so online.
  • Always ask for identification from door-to-door and street fundraising collectors.