FIA CEO Katherine Raskob says the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Legislation Review is encouraging for the sector.
The inclusion of a specific chapter on fundraising in the ACNC Legislation Review report released this week is a welcome development, particularly the recognition that positive reform can only be achieved in co-operation with the states and territories.
The fundraising chapter of the report concluded: “The Commonwealth Government has an opportunity to reduce red tape for the sector by taking a leadership role in working with State and Territory governments to harmonise fundraising laws”.
FIA is pleased that some of its concerns have been taken into account.
The main recommendation is for an amendment to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to ensure application to fundraising activities; the report stated that any unintended consequences of this application will be considered.
FIA recognises the existing and potential role of the ACL. Our major concern is to ensure that any amendment does not have an adverse impact on the tax status of donations as gifts; however, we are well prepared to seek the advice of the ATO, and act on it, if and when that becomes necessary.
Encouragingly, both Victoria and NSW indicated support for national reform of fundraising legislation and the Report recommended this should be achieved by either amendment or repeal of state and territory law. From our extensive consultation and dealings with the states, FIA is aware that expecting them to totally abolish their fundraising laws is unrealistic.
Similarly, the Review report takes a nuanced approach to the recommendation for a mandatory code of conduct on fundraising, suggesting it could be a uniform code under state and territory legislation as an alternative to a mandatory ACCC code, and that responsibility for enforcement remain with the state and territory regulators.
FIA was concerned that the publicly-stated ACCC opposition to the #fixfundraising proposals around this aspect was undermining the overall thrust of the campaign but the ACNC Review report provides a way forward.
FIA’s bottom line on any new fundraising code is that it not be imposed in addition to existing regulation and that it be complementary to the codes of FIA and those of like-minded organisations.
Encouraging as the ACNC Review report is, current events in Canberra do not appear conducive to the Commonwealth Government ‘taking a leadership role’ on fundraising reform.
Both NSW and Victoria are already actively considering reforms and as the sector’s peak body for fundraising. FIA is being consulted with both developments, so red tape reduction is progressing and offering some hope.
‘Strengthening for Purpose: The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Legislation Review makes 30 recommendations. The common theme is the need for a national scheme for the sector, requiring a referral of powers from the States to the Commonwealth. To read the report go here.
Katherine Raskob was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Fundraising Institute Australia in July this year.