Tips for Australian charities who want to support disaster relief

Charities play an important role in supporting the victims of natural disasters. From providing food and shelter, to counselling those who have lost loved ones through a disaster, across Australia, charities are always at the heart of responding to major emergencies.

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What to do

  • Find out whether there are any organisations that are already involved in the recovery effort. If so, you may be able to partner or volunteer with another organisation. It may be beneficial to make a contribution to an organisation that already has resources in the affected area rather than setting up a new charity.
  • If your charity wants to be involved in disaster relief, consider developing a plan on how to manage your involvement. Nobody can predict when a disaster will happen and at a time of emergency it can be useful to have a plan to guide your charity in its response.
  • Make sure any activities your charity undertakes are furthering your charitable purpose – the purpose for which your organisation exists. Charities must only work towards their charitable purpose. If you’re unsure about what this means, read more about charitable purpose or contact us.
  • If you wish to establish an Australian disaster relief fund (a type of deductible gift recipient (DGR)), you will need to register with the ACNC or be operated by an organisation that is registered with the ACNC. Government agencies or funds operated by a government agency do not need to be registered with the ACNC. There are also other categories of DGR that can be established in response to a disaster. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) provides more information about establishing an Australian disaster relief fund and other categories of DGR. The ACNC and the ATO will work together to fast-track any applications that are made in response to a natural disaster.
  • Check with your relevant state or territory fundraising regulator before you undertake any fundraising activity. Your charity may need register to collect charitable donations and comply with fundraising regulation.

What not to do

  • Don’t start raising money until you are familiar with how fundraising is regulated in the state or territory you wish to fundraise in.
  • Don’t enter disaster areas without checking with local authorities first. Try to coordinate any practical assistance with other organisations in the area and consider the safety of your staff and volunteers.