ACNC review calls for fundraising reform and more harmonisation

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) legislation review has called for fundraising reform and a single national scheme for the charity sector, requiring a referral of powers from the states to the commonwealth.

Its final report, tabled in Parliament on August 22, the review panel notes that Australia currently has eight separate jurisdictions whose regulatory regimes affect charities and not-for-profits (NFPs), with the commonwealth government’s regulatory requirements, through the ACNC Acts and the tax system, overlaying each of these.

This results in inconsistency, complexity and inefficiency for charities, it says.

In light of this and to remove unnecessary red tape, the review panel strongly believes a national scheme is the best option for the sector going forward, especially in areas such as governance, fundraising and registration.

Its 144-page report recommends that Australian Consumer Law (ACL) be amended to clarify its application to charitable fundraising and a mandatory code of conduct on fundraising be developed as a priority.

‘Fundraising provides a major opportunity in red tape reduction for charities in Australia, particularly for charities engaging in national fundraising or fundraising online. These charities spend significant time and resources navigating the myriad of regulatory requirements imposed by the different jurisdictions,’ it states.

Both Victoria and New South Wales have indicated support for national reform of fundraising legislation and the ACNC has made some progress with South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.

‘Leadership from the commonwealth will build on this progress and see the move toward a national scheme come to fruition,’ the report states.

The need for harmonisation of fundraising was raised in almost every consultation with the review panel and was supported in over 35 of the written submissions it received, including one from Governance Institute.

‘The current state and territory-based regulatory framework which governs charitable fundraising is fragmented, burdensome, rarely enforced and is fundamentally failing in its objective to protect donors and provide for transparency and public trust and confidence in fundraisers,’ Governance Institute noted in its submission.

The #Fixfundraising coalition, of which Governance Institute is a member, called on the government to reform the fundraising regulatory regime through minor amendments to ACL, the repeal of state-based fundraising laws and working with other regulators to improve fundraiser conduct.

Governance Institute also endorsed the submission of Justice Connect to the Senate Select Inquiry into charitable fundraising in the 21st Century which contained a comprehensive submission on fundraising.

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