Landmark changes to charity laws
The NSW Government’s key reforms to charitable fundraising laws commenced on 1 July, aiming to enhance public confidence and bolster support for charitable appeals.
Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson said the reforms have been developed to address the outcomes of the Bergin Inquiry into the Charitable Fundraising Act.
“Australians have a proven track record of digging deep and supporting each other through charitable donations when times get tough, and these donations can change lives,” Mr Anderson said.
“Our new reforms are not about dampening fundraising, instead we’re driving accountability and transparency in the industry to keep the disreputable players out and ensure consumers can give with confidence.
“When you donate you want to be sure where your money is going, and these new rules mean that donors can be certain of how those funds are being used.”
The new reforms include a tiered system of record-keeping and auditing requirements, and clearer powers for the regulator to suspend or cancel fundraising authorities for those failing to comply with the law.
“Ultimately these changes will help reduce the admin burden for charities, keep the unscrupulous operators out of the sector and allow us to act quickly when we see that fundraising authorities are doing the wrong thing,” Mr Anderson said.
“Our inspectors will also be given a broad range of investigative and compliance powers, with disciplinary options ranging from penalty notices to hefty fines and incarceration. These measures will provide effective and appropriate deterrents to bad behaviour.”
“We’ve also quadrupled the maximum penalty for serious offences, including conducting and advertising unlawful fundraising appeals, appeals for personal gain and falsely representing appeals, to $22,000".
From 1 July:
- A new maximum five-year term for fundraising authority will be introduced to increase oversight of fundraisers as the Secretary will be prompted to conduct a compliance review if necessary when the charity’s authority is up for renewal;
- All authority holders will now be required to submit an annual return to NSW Fair Trading, meaning an annual return will have to be submitted by every authority holder, even if no money was received or no appeal was conducted, within 6 months of the end of the financial year;
- Charities that raise more than $250,000 annually will have to submit an auditor’s report and annual return;
- All charities must submit a written statement affirming they are complying with their requirements;
- Upgraded enforcement powers will increase maximum penalties from $5,500 to $22,000, with Fair Trading inspectors to issue compliance notices;
- ACNC registered charities will automatically be eligible for an authority in NSW; and
- The Secretary will have discretion over the time taken to evaluate and approve applications.
For more information about the charitable fundraising law reform package see Charitable fundraising I NSW Fair Trading website.