Charities Crisis Cabinet - Open Letter to Australian Governments

AN OPEN LETTER TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS FROM THE CHARITIES CRISIS CABINET, 23 April 2020

The Charities Crisis Cabinet has written to the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers calling for urgent fundraising reform.  Now is the time to support giving with a set of fundraising rules fit for these times.

Dear Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers

We write on behalf of the Charities Crisis Cabinet (see attached) seeking your assistance in boosting giving by removing regulatory barriers to charitable fundraising in Australia.

We know this is an incredibly challenging time for all governments in Australia and around the world dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is also a challenging time for charities across Australia.

Charities employ more than 1.3 million people, draw on the contributions of over 3.5 million volunteers, turn over around $150 billion annually, and contribute over 8% of Australias GDP.  Beyond these economic indicators, the work of many charities is at the heart of our communities in good times and bad.

In recent weeks, charitable fundraising across Australia has hit a wall.  The final quarter of the financial year is usually the most important for charities in attracting donations, but donations are significantly down.  With no face to face fundraising, no events, less volunteers available, and limited consumer confidence, fundraising is not providing the income many charities rely upon to be able to serve their communities.

This is a global situation and there is now a planned global response.  Over 60 countries are joining to run a major fundraising campaign called Giving Tuesday Now – to be held on Tuesday the 5thof May. Many charities in Australia hope to join this international campaign responding to Covid-19.

Unfortunately, government regulations are impeding Australian charities pivoting their fundraising to online activities and revamping their fundraising strategies.  Charities engaged in online fundraising are currently required to comply with seven different sets of charitable fundraising regulations across our Federation. Some jurisdictions require police checks, others a public notice in a newspaper, some need verified copies of passports and other forms of ID of Directors and staff, some limit the size of collection boxes, who can open them, etc.   Many inquiries, including the recent Senate Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21stCentury have supported the view that: the time for action to reform fundraising regulation in Australia was more than 20 years ago.   

As we approach Giving Tuesday on the 5thof May, we are respectfully requesting that all States and Territories harmonise COVID-19 fundraising requirements to follow a common set of rules that are appropriate to our current circumstances, including the need to pivot to online fundraising and avoid face to face fundraising.  

The attached paper outlines how a nationally agreed set of fundraising rules could be quickly put in place to enable charities across Australia to participate in the upcoming international fundraising campaign.  Having a common set of fundraising rules that apply to all charitable fundraising would in no way diminish the responsibility of current regulators, but it would provide a much more efficient and effective one-off compliance exercise for all charities engaging in fundraising.  It would also enhance protection for donors, governments and our communities by offering a no wrong doorcomplaints system that effectively triages complaints to the right compliance authority.

Charities have appreciated the willingness of governments to listen and offer support during this pandemic.  We hope this request for government support in temporarily removing outdated regulatory barriers to charitable fundraising and putting in place more appropriate national rules will be also be given due consideration.

Yours sincerely

                                    
Rev Tim Costello AO                                                      Ms Susan Pascoe AM
Co- Chair, Charities Crisis Cabinet                                Co- Chair, Charities Crisis Cabinet           

 

Charities Crisis Cabinet: charities-crisis-cabinet

Position Paper: COVID-19-Fundraising-Rules-Harmonisation-Final-Charities-Crisis-Cabinet.pdf