Fair fundraising: new industry guidance

NEW guidance providing charities, fundraisers and not-for-profits released today will provide much-needed clarity on how the Australian Consumer Law applies to fundraising activities, Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack says.

“The guidance released comes in time for the holiday season and contains a simple message for the sector: be transparent, truthful and fair when fundraising,” Mr McCormack said.

“If you are upfront and honest, then your fundraising activities are unlikely to raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

“When charities, fundraisers and not-for-profits better understand their obligations in providing goods and services this gives consumers confidence.”

The guidance clarifies if fundraising or other activities are carried out in a business-like way, then the obligations in the ACL not to mislead or to act unconscionably will apply.

Mr McCormack said the guidance which State and Federal regulators developed as a priority at the request of the Consumer Affairs Ministers followed the recent review of the ACL.

“I met with Consumer Affairs Ministers in August and we recognised the importance of bringing clarity to how the consumer law applies to the activities of charities, not-for-profit entities and fundraisers,” Mr McCormack said. 

“This is the first of many action items coming from the review of the consumer law.

“I thank Consumer Affairs Australia New Zealand for delivering this guidance and members of the sector who participated in this process.”

Legislation will be introduced into Parliament early next year to increase the maximum financial penalties available under the ACL from the current $1.1 million for companies to the greater of $10 million, three times the value of the benefit from breaching the law or 10 per cent of the company’s turnover in the year preceding the breach.

The guidance from Consumer Affairs Australia New Zealand regulators is available at http://consumerlaw.gov.au/fundraising

Sam Edwards