As the nation prepares for this season’s bushfires, FIA has released new guidance to members on best practice fundraising for, during and after national disasters.

FIA provides guidance for disaster fundraisingAccountability, honesty and accuracy are key principles FIA is urging members to reflect in their fundraising communications during national disasters. Charities are also asked to be extra mindful of people in vulnerable circumstances and to report quickly on the impact of fundraising during each crisis. 

The national disasters practice note is intended to be read in conjunction with the FIA Code and is available to all FIA members. After last season’s devastating bushfires, guidance around best practice is much needed to help the sector expand on its impact and respond to disasters with the full trust and backing of the general public. 

“What this year’s extreme bushfires have highlighted is that accountability and transparency of charitable organisations to their donors is one of the most important aspects of ethical fundraising. Fundraising organisations need to acknowledge and report back to donors in a timely and transparent manner on where their donations are going and the impact they are having,” says FIA CEO Katherine Raskob. 

Under the practice note, national disasters are classified as floods, bushfires, drought and acts of terrorism, but also includes disasters that occur within a particular state or territory that significantly impacts the wider community. 

In light of the Bushfires Royal Commission established in February this year, FIA also recommends that key stakeholders: government, business, nonprofits and the community need to work together to expedite recovery efforts after the disaster. They also encourage government at all levels to coordinate the regulation of charitable fundraising to reduce the cost of regulatory compliance on the sector. This change is critical to maximising the distribution of donations. 

The practice note covers the following:  

Accountability: Fundraising organisations are accountable to their donors. Transparency helps donors make informed decisions, particularly during emotionally heightened situations like national disasters. Information and report should be available to donors upon request. 

Governance: All FIA members and fundraising organisations should be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and comply with relevant state or territory regulation. 

Fundraising materials and communications: Communications needs to be accurate, clearly describing how and where donations are being spent. Nonprofits are encouraged to avoid using claims that 100% of donations go towards service delivery and be transparent about the cost of fundraising. 

Outsourcing fundraising activity: Any fundraising conducted by a third party should accurately and clearly reflect the purpose and mission of the organisation. 

Guidelines for reporting: Reports on the impact and use of donations should be regular and accurate. Reports should go into detail on the impact of funds not just how they were spent. 

People in vulnerable circumstances: Nonprofits should be aware of the emotional vulnerability of people during national disasters and take extra care not to exploit donors.  

Scams: FIA members should be aware of the risks of scams and educate their donors about this potential risk. Charities should also report any potential scam to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scam Watch. 

For more information, head to the member’s portal of the FIA website. 

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