Hi and welcome to our October ACNC webinar. Today we’re going to take some time to examine the important topic of charity fundraising. We’re going to offer some guidance to those charities looking to ensure their fundraising meets good practice, and provide some other tips towards fundraising effectiveness. My name’s Chris Riches. I’m from the ACNC’s education team. With me is my colleague Matt Crichton. Hi Matt.
Hello. Hello, everyone.
Now as always, before we get into things, some preliminaries. If you have any troubles with the audio for the webinar, you can try listening through your phones. You can try the number listed in the email you will have received when you signed up, and from there you can put in an access code and listen to the webinar that way. You can also ask a question at any time through the webinar by using the tools in the Go to Webinar panel on your screen. We have our colleague Heath ready and waiting to respond to any questions that might come through. As we go along today, we’ll try to answer all the questions that do come through. But, and as always, it depends on the quantity, we may not be able to get to every single one. If your question isn’t answered, please feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you with a response. We will allow time for a Q. and A. session at the end of the presentation, so if you wanted to watch the presentation and save your questions until the end, that’s OK as well.
Also, we’re recording this webinar too. So the recording, as well as the presentation slides, they’ll be published on the ACNC webinar in the coming days. That way you don’t have to write down all the website references, because we’re going to send a follow up email with a list of the useful links and the other resources to all of you in the next day or two. And finally, we do value your feedback. If you have any suggestions for ways we can improve our webinars, please let us know in the short survey at the end of the webinar, or send us an email to the education address with some of your comments.
Okey dokes. Where are we going to go today? We’re going to look at five relatively key areas of fundraising good practice. First up we’ll look at the importance of your charity having a clear and functioning fundraising strategy, as well as a solid fundraising policy. And yes, these are two different things. So we’ll go through the distinctions of each of them. We’ll look at the regulations and regulators in place for fundraising in Australia. There are a few, from regulations covering fundraising licences across states and territories, to things like DGR requirements. And with online fundraising, crowd funding and that sort of stuff now the norm, these laws become especially relevant. Some charities engage fundraising agencies or other third parties to carry out fundraising. Again, there are a number of responsibilities your charity has towards fundraising good practice, if doing so. We’ll look at those as well.
Your charity is likely to work with others when fundraising, even if it isn’t a third party fundraiser. You might end up with a partnership corporate or a local business. You might end up on a crowdfunding website, or you even might stage a joint fundraiser with another charity. You’ll need to do the right thing when you do so, so we’ll have a look at how you can work with others.
Finally, any interactions with actual or prospective donors, need to be conducted with respect. This is not only good practice, but it’s just basic common sense. We’ll delve into this as well, later in the webinar.
OK, excuse me. I’ve got five quick questions here, as you can see on your screen, that people involved in charities should be asking themselves when they think about their fundraising strategy. They’re based on the key points we’re going to cover during the webinar. So there should be, a charity’s responsible person should ask for their charity’s fundraising strategy, and their fundraising policy before they think about a fundraising event, campaign, or whatever it may be.
The people involved in a charity should be familiar with the laws and any particular requirements that their fundraising activities have. And this is especially important if they are overseeing fundraising or decisions for fundraising for the charity. So if it’s maybe the members of the board or the committee.
They should ask about the guidelines that the charity has for working with others. Again, what does the charity set as its rules and guidelines for engaging with other parties to conduct fundraising activities? And finally, a charity really does need to ask itself how it ensures that it will treat donors with respect and especially the vulnerable people that it may come across when it is conducting fundraising, and this last one is one that often gets forgotten, in amongst all the planning and the strategizing and the goal setting of how much money an organisation wants to raise. It’s easy to fall off the edge of that discussion, but it is really an important one, and it should be right at the forefront of responsible persons minds when they are thinking about setting up a fundraising campaign for a charity. How are you going to deal with donors? And how are you going to deal with donors or potential donors that are considered vulnerable?
Now, before we jump into those five or six topics, just as a little bit of an intro to the topic, we want to emphasise where the ACNC sits when it comes to fundraising. First up, it’s probably important to know that the ACNC does not have the responsibility for regulating fundraising. It’s not our job. We don’t have that role. Generally speaking, it’s the states and the territories that have the regulatory responsibility in fundraising. States and territories are where you seek out, for example, any fundraising licenses you might need. Charities might also need to provide a report on any funds that they do raise to state or territory government regulator or regulators.
In some states or territories, there are special arrangements that apply to charities that I guess do fundraising through gaming. And when we say gaming, I guess gaming activities like raffles, bingo, that sort of thing.
Now, the other regulatory body here is the ATO. The ATO makes decisions on whether a charity is a deductible gift recipient, and if you are a deductible gift recipient, you can offer tax deductions on money donated, DGRs as they’re called, have to meet certain requirements as set out by the ATO Now, our list of regulators that may affect charities, we’ve got a good list on our shiny new website. It’s at acnc.gov.au/regulatorlist. We’ve got a great set of resources covering fundraising regulators and regulations in each state and territory. They can also be found on our website at /charityfundraising.
Now, if the ACNC isn’t responsible for charity fundraising regulation, what is our interest in the topic? It’s pretty simple. The ACNC will have an interest in any behaviour which could see a charity not meet its obligations to us. For example, not reporting as it needs to, not providing information we require, or not meeting our ACNC governance standards. In particular Governance Standard Five requires responsible persons to act with reasonable care and diligent, to act in the best interests of the charity, and for its charitable purposes, and to ensure that the financial affairs of the charity are managed responsible. Fundraising practices are an important part of a charity’s operations, and the ACNC expects that it is properly overseen by the charity’s responsible persons, and improper fundraising behaviour, behaviour that might breach governance standards for example, that’s the sort of thing that the ACNC may look into.
OK, so some fundraising issues that may spark the ACNC to look into the conduct of a charity, maybe that a failure to protect the funds received, or account for all the funds received during fundraising. It may be that there is weak governance and weak oversight of the charity’s activities or resources. Possibly commercial participation or fundraising arrangements with professional bodies, professional fundraisers, that is, that do not comply with the law, and may be not in the charity’s best interests, or at least the decision to use those fundraisers is not in the charity’s best interest. Fundraising activities that may damage public trust and confidence. Excessively high fundraising costs may be something that could act as a flag for the ACNC Serious risks to a charity’s reputation or assets, and methods of fundraising which could possibly be a breach of the ACNC’s governance standards.
Also maybe where there’s conflicts of interest or private benefit that haven’t been properly controlled or disclosed. And serious or frequent failures in the conduct of fundraising, so maybe unlicensed fundraising for example, which may put charity funds at risk. And of course, there is the potential for criminal behaviour related to fundraising, whether that be fraud, theft, tax fraud, that sort of thing could possibly act as a flag too.
But it’s important to say that these are indications of the potentials, and the ACNC would take each case on its merits, within the context of the organisation’s activities before it would decide to, or how it would decide to use whatever regulatory powers it had in the area of fundraising. There is lots of information on our website about this area, particularly at acnc.gov.au/fundraising FAQs. But again, we’ll have that link in the follow up email that goes out after this webinar.
So a charity’s proper conduct in fundraising is important. When we say proper conduct, I suppose we’re talking about, maybe a nebulous term, but we’re talking about acting with respect towards donor and potential donors and just the public in general, and following its own policies and guidelines in conducting fundraising. And following the law, of course. And proper conduct is dictated by, I suppose, various common sense approaches and attitudes to fundraising. And ensuring that the charity adheres to good practice.
So basic things like being transparent with fundraising. Both the approaches that the charity takes, and approaches to people. So its approaches to campaigns and approaches to people, in that it’s how it deals with people face to face. And being responsible for all those actions, and exercising adequate oversight. So if you’re in a role as a responsible person on a charity, it is really important to remember that it is your responsibility to have some oversight over the charity’s fundraising activities, and to ensure that the charity is really going about it the right way. And there are a bunch of ways you can go about this, and we’ll go through some of those now.
First up, the fundraising strategy. We mentioned at the start of the webinar that a strategy differs from a policy. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the difference is to look at what each of them should contain. So first up, a fundraising strategy is more goal orientated. It should look at things, or include things like an overall statement that covers the aims and the importance of your charity fundraising, maybe a bit of an outline of some of the methods your charity will pursue. That might be grants, donations, sales of items, things like crows funding corporate partnerships, even a membership based program. Should look at or include the appointment of a coordinator, a fundraising coordinator, or someone who actually is responsible for overseeing and monitoring those fundraising efforts.
Another thing that could be included is the development of a plan, a strategy of fundraising activities. Which activities will be staged at what times? Who’s responsible for each activity? Things like key dates, timelines, the planning involved permits, licences. Those practical, nitty gritty type things that you need to have covered. A strategy could also look at spelling out, I guess the integrated approach to your charity, as suggested, the strategic approach your charity will take to fundraising. Short, medium, long term goals. Maybe some different approaches. Whether a fundraiser is a, a fundraising event is a primary, very important headline fundraiser or money maker, or it’s designed to be one that maybe bubbles along in the background and brings in a reliable, constant stream of income. Maybe there’s times where a fundraiser might be a big event as well. So those are the sorts of things that a strategy can spell out.
Now, the Our Community website, through its funding centre, it has a pretty useful strategy that can be used by charities as a basis. The address, there you go, there’s the link down the bottom of the page there. Go have a look, well worth a look, and maybe adapt it for your own use.
Now as we mentioned, a policy is a little bit different to a strategy. Think about the strategy as the sort of tactics, the plans you have, for how you’re going to get the money that you need, and what events, what activities, that sort of thing. The policy can be viewed as, I suppose, the rules that your charity has that underpin what the strategy is going to be. So the policy should have some legal considerations. That maybe the fundraising licences that you need, permits that you might need in certain areas. It should cover the responsibility for approving fundraising activities.
So this is likely to fall to what the ACNC calls the responsible persons of a charity, which you might think of as the directors or the board, or the committee. That might be passed on to a fundraising coordinator, as Chris mentioned in the, with the previous slide. And it could, the policy should cover the policies and statements on the types of fundraisers and fundraising methods, and partners that the charity may use, and may be prohibited from using. So there might be some particular professional fundraising bodies, or particular methods that the charity has decided run contrary to its own values, and in the policy, it’s stated that the charity will not use these sorts of activities, these methods or these types of fundraisers in any of their activities or their strategies.
And also, a policy should have procedures on the money handling and reporting of the success or even failures, I suppose, of any fundraising campaigns, and how it, how the charity that is, will manage the information and data that it receives of donors. This is again, probably another thing that sometimes falls off the edge of considerations when setting up a fundraising campaign or a strategy, is that the responsibility to manage people’s information and data responsibly, and in accordance with the law. So if you are collecting people’s private information, the policy should underpin the rules by which you do so.
Now, this policy that you set up, it can be referred to the charity as the sort of source of truth. It can also show the ACNC and for that matter, any other prospective partners or donors that the charity is responsible, it’s committed to good practice, and it adheres to the ACNC’s governance standards. So in that sense, not only is it a useful document to underpin or set up the rules by which you do your fundraising, it can be used as a way to demonstrate that your charity is well run, well governed and transparent and responsible.
And this sort of thing should be up for discussion and debate at your regular meetings, whether it be your annual general meeting, in a bigger sense, or just the regular smaller meetings. Elements of the policy, and for that matter the strategy, can come up and be discussed at any time. So think of it of course as an important document that sets up the rules, but it’s not set in stone, and it can be adapted and changed according to changing conditions.
Having that ability to discuss these types of things at a regular meeting, to have it as a standing item on the agenda gets everything out in the open. It allows responsible persons to have a chat, and if there is someone who’s responsible for the fundraising, they can come in and they can offer their insights. They might have to give a report, do some homework and that sort of stuff, but it keeps things literally on the agenda and allows them to be discussed.
Now, we’ve already touched on regulations and regulators. But again, we’ll emphasise this. States and territories are predominantly the bodies with oversight on fundraising. Now this can cause challenges for charities, simply because fundraising laws differ across different jurisdictions. What might be regulated by laws in one state or territory, may not be regulated in another, and the way certain activities are regulated in one part of Australia might be different from how they’re regulated in another part of Australia.
If you fundraise on a national level, or in a way that might attract donations from a number of place, and look, that’s increasingly common. The internet, obviously online fundraising, online donation platforms, crowdfunding, all of those sorts of things. Even the use of social media. If you’re doing that, it’s vital to remember a couple of points. A charity that wants to conduct fundraising at a national level may need to be registered to fundraise in each state and territory, and a charity may be in breach of fundraising laws and regulations if it accepts funds living from someone in a state or territory when the charity is not registered to fundraise.
Now again, charity board members, responsible persons, they must be aware of these laws and how they govern fundraising activities, including stuff that’s online. Being aware of the legal requirements and ramifications of conducting fundraising campaigns is part of running a well governed charity, and it should be an important part of a charity’s planning.
Yes, it should, and it should be noted that again, I know we said this at the beginning, but it’s worth reiterating, that the ACNC doesn’t administer any laws over fundraising, and specifically the types of things that Chris just mentioned. So when we say the responsible persons, board members and directors should be aware of the laws that govern fundraising activities. Maybe the first step is to figure out where these laws sit, who’s responsible. When I say who, which agency, government agency that is, is responsible. And then you can set about finding the specifics of where your activities fit into those laws. So as we mentioned before, the regulator list on our website has a good list of them, but generally speaking, fundraising laws in Australia sit at the state and territory level, and each state and territory will have its own agency responsible for fundraising laws.
And they’re often either Consumer Affairs, for example, Consumer Affairs Victoria, or fair trading is another common name by which they go.
Yep. And now outsourcing fundraising and using third party fundraisers, some people might call them professional fundraisers, is increasingly common too, and let’s just say at the outset, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing this, it’s a common practice, and in many cases charities simply don’t have the resources, the time, even the expertise to be able to run an effective fundraising campaign, so the use of people who do have the time, the resources and the expertise can often really be beneficial for a charity, and bring in more money than they would have been able to do on their own. But of course, this comes with some caveats, and some potential pitfalls. So sometimes it might simply be more efficient or cost effective for a charity, even a large charity, to work with an agency, and this might involve things like street collections or door to door fundraising activities.
But while charities may do this, and may have success with this, it’s important to realise that they are not allowed to outsource their responsibilities. So as we’ve got on the screen there, that little, I suppose catch phrase is something that people involved in charities should bear in mind, that while you can outsource your fundraising, the activities, the labour and the manual work involved, you cannot outsource your responsibilities. So even if you do engage a third party fundraiser, a professional fundraising body to do some fundraising work on your behalf, whatever they do is in the name of your charity, and being the directors, the board members, the committee of that charity, it is your responsibility.
Effectively down the command line, the decision line, the buck stops with the board of directors, the committee members on the charity, for having made the decision to engage this third party fundraiser to conduct activities on their behalf. So there’s no washing your hands of whatever negativity may come with using such professional bodies to help you with fundraising. So it’s important to bear in mind that if your charity decides to work with a fundraising agency, in choosing the agency, it must be diligent. It’s got to consider the practices, even the policies of the prospective fundraising company, agency or body, and really think carefully about whether or not it is appropriate for your charity, and whether or not the arrangement allows the people on the charity to have sufficient oversight of the activities that are conducted in its name.
It might seem like a good idea to hand this off to a fundraising agency or company and then sort of not hear about it until you get the windfall of all these millions of dollars coming in, but the charity really does need to have oversight of the specifics of the activities that are going on, because it’s done in their name and it’s their responsibility.
And a responsible charity will want to know how things are going along anyway, if it’s through progress reports, even pick up the phone and ask a couple of silly questions, and make sure that you are being diligent, make sure that you do have oversight.
Now, what have we got here? There’s some quick tips on using a fundraising agency. Now, we’ll go down to the bottom of that slide before we go up again, we do have guidance on working with fundraising agencies, again, at that link down the bottom of the screen there. Now, some of the considerations that Matt was just talking about, they go beyond just how much it might cost to work with, I won’t say employ, engage a third-party fundraiser. Although it might be tempting for a charity to look at a fundraising agency and select one based solely on cost, particularly if for example, its fundraising needs are a little bit urgent, there are a number of factors which go beyond cost, which charities should examine. Now, some of them are up on the screen. They include the agency or the fundraiser’s values, and how they align to the charity’s. How transparent it is, its reputation, its financial situation. It’s no use engaging a fundraiser if they themselves are not travelling very well. Its experience, its areas of expertise, maybe some past performance, some past successes it’s had. Its structure and how it uses subcontractors.
Charities should have a thorough understanding of the operations of any fundraising agency they consider working with. These also include things like an agency’s employment policies and practices, how it trains, treats and supports staff, how it works with staff, how it handles and deals with complaints, its financial management, its stability, how it handles and protects people’s data in turn. All of those sorts of things.
A charity must conduct adequate due diligence before entering an agreement to work with a fundraising agency. But before entering, things don’t stop there. You’ve got to continue to monitor activities as they occur. Ultimately a charity should be satisfied that the fundraising agency it is considering is aware of its legal obligations, has appropriate policies and processes to ensure compliance, and shares the values of the charity.
Now, we’ve taken a bit of time on this topic, because of its importance, and we’ve had issues in the past. There have been issues in the past where third party fundraisers have hit the headlines, a small portion of them, for the wrong reasons. So you need to remember, and we emphasise again. You can outsource your fundraising, but you cannot outsource your responsibilities, and choosing the wrong third party to work with impacts on a charity’s standing and reputation.
Now, we’re looking at partnerships and things like that now. And I guess the most common form, for a long time, of partnership, has been sponsorships. They’ve been part of the fundraising landscape for ages. Often these arrangements have seen charities and businesses from the same area, maybe the same suburb or town, partner in an arrangement that delivers benefits for both parties. But an increasing number of organisations working in a more structured and a more strategic way with other organisations, through what are known as corporate partnerships. Corporate partnerships go beyond just being a sponsorship.
In fact, things like sponsorships and the provision of extra funding, can be viewed as maybe basic, simple forms of corporate partnerships. Corporate partnerships are arrangements whereby charities or community organisations work with corporate or business interests to deliver on an arrangement that is mutually beneficial. Partnerships like these see a charity maybe receive a benefit. It might be sponsorship, as we’ve mentioned, volunteers, goods, services, resources, expertise, pro bono or in kind support. All of those sorts of things. In return, they offer a benefit to the corporate partner. Now, that’s important. That might be the promotion of the partner’s business through even signage or things like that, naming rights to an event, sponsorships opportunities, preferred supplier status, participation at charity events, and of course there would be reputational benefits perhaps on offer as well. This arrangement should also see a noticeable benefit to the community as a whole, so not just to the charity, not just to the business, but the community needs to benefit too. Again, we have a great guide on charities and corporate partnerships. The link is there up on the screen. That’s at acnc.gov.au/partnerships.
But again, there are some keys when it comes to raising funds through these partnerships, or not just raising funds, producing other benefits as well. One of the most important ones we’ve already touched on. That is to do your due diligence, and carefully consider you you’re working with, and the details of any arrangement you have when working with them. You need to ask yourself, responsible persons at a charity need to ask themselves, is the business a good fit with your organisation? Do its values and aims align with your charity’s? Or at least, do they not exist in conflict with the values and the aims of your charity? Are there any risks? For example, there might be financial, operational or even reputational, that might arise in working in a partnership, and if so, how will your charity address them?
Are there any no-go zones, or businesses you will not work with in a partnership arrangement? One obvious one might be say a junior sporting group or something like that, perhaps shying away from working in partnership with a business that sells alcohol, or a business that maybe promotes gambling. That might be a consideration that your organisations needs to discuss, and needs to discuss at an early stage, well before engaging in a partnership.
The key to this situation is to be aware of the possibilities and the benefits of partnerships, but also to be aware of the amount of work required, because there is a lot of work required, and it’s ongoing work. And also the risks that might be involved. Don’t put your charity at risk, just to raise a quick buck. And look, that’s true of everything that we’ve already said in this webinar, and pretty much everything that we’ll cover from here on in, too. So again, refer to that guidance that we’ve got at acnc.gov.au/partnerships, it’s well worth a read, and well worth a look.
Crowd funding and online fundraising has become increasingly popular, and of course, why wouldn’t it? Everyone’s got the technology and it’s a pretty easy thing to do, especially with the websites that are set up, effectively to do all the work for you. You sort of sign in and start a campaign, and off you go, the money rolls in. It’s again, something that a charity should consider carefully before they decide to use as a fundraising income source.
Number one, people involved in charities should be aware of the laws that come with crowdfunding and online fundraisers, and make sure that whatever their activities are, comply with the various state and territory fundraising regulations. And again, we wouldn’t expect you to know these off the top of your head, so it’s worth taking the time to just investigate a little bit, if you’re a charity that operates nationally. It may be that you have to think about how these, or what different laws apply in different states and territories. If you operate in just a single state, it might be a little bit less homework, but nonetheless the homework is an important step, and it’s worth doing.
Have a think, there are many different sites that do this, so it’s worth having a look at the different features and the different obligations that sites impose upon organisations that use them, to check to see if the site is charging you anything for the service. If it is, make sure that you’re satisfied that the charges aren’t excessive, that they’re something that the charity can manage, and importantly justify if anyone was to ask questions. Also, online donation sites may take a small percentage of the donations that a charity receives, so people involved in the charity should know about these charges. You don’t want to be surprised at the end when you think you’ve got lots of money, it turns out that you’ve had to give over some of it to the website.
Make sure that you’re aware of the deal, and that you’re happy with the conditions on which your use of the site is based. And maybe even communicate to donors that the arrangements does come with a fee, or a percentage taken by the website, just as a show of transparency and good faith, that you’re aware of it, you’re passing the information on to the donor, but it’s part of the transaction, and it’s something that you’ve decided to go with.
So make sure, even when you’re using the online crowed funding sources, make sure you’ve done your homework, you know where the law sits in the particular jurisdictions, and you know what obligations are placed upon your organisation for using it, and how much fees you’re going to be paying for using it as well. Just try not to allow your charity to incur excessive fees, particularly unknown fees and charges when using these services. We have a guide on this on our website too, which goes into it in a bit more detail acnc.gov.au/crowdfunding. Again, this link will be in the follow up email.
Now, the theme of treating them, treating donors with respect is one that should carry through all your interactions with donors, and with supporters. Both actual donors and supporters and prospective donors and supporters. A charity’s fundraising practices should be consistent with the values of the organisation. We cannot underestimate that, it’s probably worth dwelling on that, and thinking about that. Charities should always treat donors and potential donors fairly and respectfully.
There are all manner of things your charity should do as part of this attitude of respect. There’s a few that we’ll work through, and we’ll run through here. Obviously I guess the first is to ensure that any approaches that you make to donors, to members of the public, those approaches can be in person, they can be online, they can be in writing, they should be respectful and honest.
You should be informative as well. Tell people why you’re fundraising, and tell them what their donations will go towards, how it will make a difference. This sort of story telling is good. It’s good practice to inform people of where their hard-earned is going, and the to inform them again through a follow up communication, a follow up email, or even a note, something as simple as that. Through the website, through your annual report.
Stay in touch with people who support you. It’s not only good practice, it’s good manners as well, I suppose. Being respectful means you don’t go out hassling people when you’re asking for donations. Don’t pursue people down the street. Don’t shout at them, don’t deluge them with communications, especially after they’ve told you they don’t wish to donate or if they’ve told you that they can’t donate right now. That’s respectful. This is not only good fundraising practice, again, it’s just good manners. It puts your charity in a good light. Act responsibly when your fundraising activities see you engaging with people in vulnerable circumstances as well.
Now, we’ve mentioned people in vulnerable circumstances before. We have a guide, again, and there’s a link down the bottom, acnc.gov.au/vulnerablepeople. People who are in vulnerable circumstances are those who might not be, or who are not, sorry, in a position to make a confident and informed choice about donating to a charity. Now, that might mean that some people may not have the capacity to make that type of decision, some may be in a vulnerable position. Others might need a little bit of extra support, or a little bit of care. The extent of a person’s capacity to make a decision about donating is reduced, if it is, it might depend on their particular circumstances.
Some people in vulnerable circumstances may still be able to make an informed decision if they have the extra care and support that they need. So having the capacity to make a decision to donate to charity means that a person is able to either alone, or with support, fully understand the information that your charity will present to them. To properly consider the information and the consequences of any decision to donate, and the not be able to communicate their decision clearly. They’re the keys.
And just to finish up on this topic, treating donors with respect also does touch on the issue of efficient fundraising. So of course your charity can spend money to raise more funds, we’ve touched on this when we were talking about using fundraising agencies and other professional fundraising companies. So it’s fair, it’s legitimate for a charity to spend money to make some more money as long as this is in line with the charitable purpose, and the costs that they incur in doing so should be reasonable. The decisions about how a charity will raise funds are made by the charity’s governing body, that’s the responsible persons, as we often refer to them. You probably know them as the board or the committee. This means that the responsible persons really do need to do the right thing, and make sure that, just this entire notion of treating donors with respect is central to whatever decisions they make on fundraising.
And just a final point again, we mentioned it at the beginning, but protecting people’s information and data. So inevitably when you get donations from people, I suppose unless it’s dropping a couple of coins in a tin, you’re likely to get someone’s name, their phone number, contact details, their address and that sort of thing, and even bank details in some instances. Make sure that your organisation has thought this through, and has clear policies and practices for how they’re going to manage people’s information and data.
And of course, beyond the legal requirements of managing information and data, there are community expectations about how a charity will do so. So if someone’s deciding to donate to your charity, it’s unlikely that they are also giving you permission to pass the email address on to a whole bunch of other people to then be asked for donations too. So that’s the sort of thing we’re talking about when we say community expectations, and being aware that people making donations are doing so with the clear intent to donate to your organisation. It’s a separate thing for assuming that they’ll be a likely target for other donations, and that their email address is something worth passing on.
All of this is vital to a charity’s reputation, and of course the charity’s success and sustainability rests heavily on its reputation. So don’t take this aspect of it lightly, because if you do, the negative ramifications of it will likely come back to hurt the charity later on.
OK, we do have the guide at the bottom there, acnc.gov.au/information and data is a page that goes into this in a bit more detail, including some of the legal requirements of managing people’s information and data. Now, just to finish up today’s webinar, we’re going to run through the main points to take away from it. And we have six to go through. The first couple, have a fundraising policy and strategy for your charity. So these are important documents that all charities should really have I place, and that the people responsible for governing the charity, the board, the committee, they should all be familiar with these. And the second point on this screen at the moment is that charities do have a number of regulators and regulations that they may need to comply with for fundraising, so it’s important just to know which ones your charity, know which laws your charity has to comply with and which regulators are involved.
A little bit linked to that point that Matt just made, it’s worth remembering that while the ACNC doesn’t have direct oversight of fundraising, we do take an interest, if a charity’s fundraising related behaviour sees it at risk of breaching governance standards. So that’s point three. Point four, again, your charity, your responsibilities. You can outsource some of your charity’s fundraising activities, but you can’t outsource your charity’s responsibilities in doing so. And the last couple of points we made, play nice with others. Ensure that you do your due diligence when deciding to work with other agencies. Do a bit of homework, do a bit of research on each of them to make sure that they are the type of organisation your charity does want to work with. And of course, treat people with respect. Treat donors with respect, and prospective donors with respect, and even the people that refuse.
Rudely or politely, or in whatever way, whatever manner they do. Act properly, act maturely, transparently and respectfully, because all of this reflects upon your charity and its reputation.
This is sort of the end of our formal presentation today. We’ve had quite a number of questions though pop up throughout, and we’re still online, so if you’ve got any questions that you’d like to ask now, if we get a chance to answer them, we will. But we’ve had a few come through that we thought we’d share with everyone, because they’ve got enough broader appeal that we thought a lot of people might get something out of these answers. So one question we did have was about the use of product based fundraisers, chocolates and the like, appropriate fundraising. Are there any rules or guidelines for charities to follow with the products that are involved in their fundraising?
I guess the first thing to consider, or the first thing to figure out is that these types of activities, obviously fundraising activities have to comply with the law. So that’s each state and territory and that sort of thing. But this is more of a question of I guess appropriateness of certain fundraisers, and for the most part, it’s something that individual charities are going to have to look at and address to their own satisfaction. And this is where your charity’s fundraising policy, which we discussed during the main part of the webinar, this is where it comes into play. Your policy should contain these sorts of statements on what methods, what products, what other things your charity will and won’t do when it comes to fundraising. And again, this sort of thing might be a good discussion point for you charity’s responsible persons. We mentioned activities in relation to alcohol, say, gambling. Some fundraising, some charities might even have an issue with using chocolate or other food products, ones that might contain nuts for example. Do we have an issue with those? Are they healthy? Is this something that we wish to do? Do we link ourselves through sponsorship to certain organisations or products or behaviours?
And then maybe it’s worth having a bit of a think of when you’re putting this policy together, what are your alternatives, if you don’t want to go on the old chocolate bar fundraiser, what alternatives do you have? There are alternatives out there. There are plenty of them. So for many of these types of questions, you’ve got to, as a charity, it’s something that you have to approach and discuss regularly, and it’s different for each charity as well. You might have an argument for or against each one. So it needs to be raised. You need to discuss it and you need to resolve it. And then you need to perhaps get some definitive statements down in your policy. Doing so obviously allows you to form this policy, but it also allows you to, if someone asks you about your fundraising habits, your fundraising activities, your charity will have a good old explanation on hand about why you’re doing it, what you’ve discussed. And it will be if something that’s come about after some considered discussion as well.
Now we did have another question, and it was one that came up, one that we sort of, our advice people sometimes get asked, we often get asked to. If a charity’s had, say a good year, has travelled well, has got a little bit of money maybe sitting in the bank, or something like that, some reserves and that sort of stuff, is it still appropriate to fundraise? Can a charity do this? Should a charity do this?
Yeah. It’s a tricky one. The short answer is yes, there’s no sort of limit, that if you reach a certain amount of a target in one year that you’re temporarily suspended from fundraising beyond that. So the short answer is yes, and it is fair for a charity to continue to fundraise, even if they’ve had a great campaign and raised a lot of money, because we know that a charity, many charities, rely heavily on the donations that they receive, and earning a bit of extra money in one fundraising campaign is a good thing, can see the charity’s sustainability through the next short term, even long term, over the next few years.
So yes, a charity can, and really should. The one connection to this question, I suppose, is the idea of banking money. When I say bank, just putting it away, keeping it for a rainy day. Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, provided that the charity is doing so for proper reasons, and not just hoarding money for the sake of having money, but say putting aside some money as a reserve for protection against maybe future fundraising failures is a reasonable thing to do. Maybe they’re saving up to do a new program next year or the year after, and to see that program come to light, they need to save a bit of their money to make sure that it’s feasible on a couple of years’ time. It might be that they need to purchase equipment. If you’re a medical research charity, what you’re spending money on would be much different to an organisation that is doing, maybe something like a food bank, or a soup kitchen. So the costs involved will be much more as well.
So it’s not fair to judge a charity’s financial decisions in a one size fits all manner. Charities are different, their activities are different, the costs they incur are different. And their need for funds, for whatever purposes will be different too. So as long as the charity is still fundraising for charitable purposes, using its funds for charitable purposes, there’s no reason why it can’t continue to raise funds.
And it might be in some circumstances, it’s in the charity’s interests to state explicitly why they’re doing this particular campaign. So they have plans to buy a particular thing, whether it’s a new office, or they’re releasing a new program, or they’re doing something new in a couple of years. So that could be part of the promotional material, or even just the explanations on a fundraising campaign, saying we’re undertaking this, to be able to buy a new what-cha-ma-call-it, or to run a new program in 2020, so we need the funds for this. And you can even use that as I suppose further persuasion techniques for your donors, to try and get them to jump onboard and help you out with the particular thing that you’re trying to do.
Got time for one more?
One more I think, we’re getting close to midday. Sorry, 1 o’clock.
OK, we’ll get onto the third party fundraising thing. It’s been quite a popular topic today. So if we, if a charity is using volunteers to help fundraise, how do we ensure, actually this one is about volunteers, but I suppose it still applies to third party fundraisers. If we’re using volunteers to help fundraise, how do we ensure that they are doing the right thing? And what do we expect, or what do we see as best practice?
I guess when your, if your charity is lucky enough to have some volunteers who are willing and able to get out and about and do some fundraising, communication is often the key. These people will probably be familiar with your charity, familiar with what it does. So as a charity, you need to be able to communicate with them, and to be clear with them is key. If you’re getting volunteers or helpers to help you out, you should really take the time to, I guess chat with them, communicate with them about what your charity wishes them to do, or not to do as well.
You shouldn’t be afraid of preparing maybe some guidelines, a little bit of information, a little kit or a little pack, or even just an A4 sheet of paper with a bit of a rundown. And to prepared it for those who are fundraising for you. This sort of thing can give them a bit of information about maybe some answers to questions that members of the public or perspective donors might have.
It can also outcome what your charity might see as acceptable behaviours, dos and don’ts, that sort of thing. Even, if it’s something where you’re getting a number of volunteers out there, it might be a good idea to get them together and to go through some of these things, to have a bit of a brief or an information session before they go out and solicit some donations. They can ask some questions, you can provide some answers, and there’s that thread of communication there. So that’s the key, communication is the key.
You really need to be clear about what expectations your charity has, and you need to be clear about the information you want these volunteers to convey. Don’t leave them in the lurch. They’re doing you a favour, they’re helping you out. So again, treat them with respect, do the right thing by them. I think that’s about…
That is about all the time we have today. We’ll wind this one up. Now, there’s a number of ways you can stay in touch. As always you can see many and varied ways that we’ve got for people to interact with us, get in touch with us and that sort of thing. So feel to do so. We will hang around for a touch longer, a couple more minutes, just in case there are any last minute questions. Again, if we don’t get around to your question, email us at that email@example.com address, and we’ll be able to help you out, provide a response to any queries that you may have.
Now, the usual caveat before we go. We’re always looking to improve what we do here at the ACNC, so we would love it if you took the time to let us know what you thought of today’s session. There’s a very, very short survey just after things wrap up here, if you’ve got a couple of spare minutes, that would be wonderful. And if you’ve got any extra comments again, firstname.lastname@example.org that would be wonderful. And if you want to go to our website, check out where, check out the new website, that’s very exciting. Also check out where our next webinar is and what it’s about, feel free to do so.
That’s about it. Thank you to Heath who has typed away madly, answering a whole heap of questions. Thank you Matt.
Thanks. Thanks, everyone.
Thanks to everyone for joining us, and we’ll see you another time. See you later.