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Key points:

  • The ACNC does not regulate fundraising - it is regulated at a state or territory level.
  • A charity's Responsible People should ensure its fundraising is ethical and consistent with the charity’s values and wider community standards.
  • Donors and potential donors should always be treated fairly and respectfully, particularly people in vulnerable circumstances.
  • If a charity outsources its fundraising, its Responsible People still have ultimate oversight and responsibility.
  • Charities and fundraisers must ensure people do not feel pressured into giving, and have the ability to easily refuse or opt out of donations.

The ACNC does not have direct regulatory responsibility over fundraising - this lies with state and territory agencies. However, the ACNC does have oversight of:

  • the ACNC Governance Standards, which includes the requirement for charities to comply with Australian law (Governance Standard 3)
  • the need for Responsible People to comply with the duties listed under Governance Standard 5, including the requirement they act with reasonable care and diligence and in the best interests of the charity and for its purposes
  • our responsibility to ensure public trust and confidence in the charity sector.

The ACNC may intervene where a charity has failed to meet its obligations to us, or may have breached the ACNC Act. Fundraisers must comply with relevant legislation for the states or territories in which they raise money.

Many small charities directly approach members of the public for donations, either on the phone or via face-to-face fundraising.

The decision to fundraise rests with the charity’s Responsible People. They must ensure the charity's efforts comply with the law, meet community expectations and don’t damage public trust and confidence.

Fundraising in most states and territories requires a licence, which is issued by the state or territory government. The Responsible People must be aware of the requirements before the charity commences fundraising activities.

Charities using telephone fundraising are exempt from complying with the Do Not Call Register. This means they can call people on the Register when they fundraise. However, this does not exempt charities from the responsibility to conduct fundraising in a way which meets community expectations. This includes removing from your list anyone who doesn’t want you contacting them.

Charities must establish adequate processes to protect people in vulnerable circumstances during fundraising efforts.

Not all people are in a position to make a confident, informed choice about donating to a charity. Some people may not have the capacity to make such decisions, while others may require extra support to do so.

Common examples of people in vulnerable circumstances include those:

  • with intellectual disability
  • with physical or mental health issues (permanent or temporary)
  • who don’t fully understand the language the fundraiser is speaking
  • experiencing financial difficulty
  • experiencing stress or anxiety (including stress that is induced by a request for a donation)
  • under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • who are unable to care for themselves (especially those who rely on the support or care of a charity)
  • who are elderly (especially those without close support) or very young.

Small charities that fundraise should be aware of people’s vulnerabilities and must not target or exploit them.

Charities sometimes outsource fundraising activities to a third party, such as a fundraising agency. For small charities with limited resources, working with a fundraising agency can be a viable option if the charity can’t dedicate appropriate time and resources to fundraising efforts.

Charities that outsource their fundraising must remember that the actions taken by a third-party fundraiser in the name of a charity remain the responsibility of the charity. While charities can outsource their fundraising, they do not outsource their responsibility to ensure it is done properly.

See our guide about working with fundraising agencies for more information.

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