Key points:

  • The ACNC does not regulate fundraising.
  • A charity's Responsible Persons 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 Persons still have ultimate oversight.
  • Charities and fundraisers must ensure people do not feel pressured into giving, and have the ability to easily refuse or opt out of donations.

Fundraising regulators

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

  • The ACNC Governance Standards. These include the need for charities to comply with Australian law
  • The need for Responsible Persons to comply with duties listed under ACNC 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 the 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. For more, visit acnc.gov.au/fundraising.

Telephone and face-to-face fundraising

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

Any decision to fundraise like this rests with the charity’s Responsible Persons. 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/territory government. Responsible Persons must be aware of the requirements before the charity commences fundraising activity.

More information about the requirements to fundraise in each state is available at: acnc.gov.au/fundraising.

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.

People in vulnerable circumstances

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 charity. Some people may not have the capacity to make such decisions; others may require extra support to do so.

Common examples of people in vulnerable circumstances include those:

  • with intellectual challenges, or physical or mental health issues
  • who don’t fully understand the language the fundraiser is speaking
  • experiencing financial difficulty
  • experiencing stress or anxiety
  • under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • who are unable to care for themselves, or
  • who are elderly or very young.

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

Working with fundraising agencies

Charities sometimes outsource fundraising activities to a third party – most commonly, a fundraising agency. For small charities, doing so can be a viable option if they, by themselves, 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.

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