Key responsibilities for fundraisers
Anyone who fundraises or intends to fundraise – even if you don’t raise any money – needs to follow the key responsibilities outlined below. Additionally, there are mandatory rules authority holders must follow when fundraising. These can be found in Schedule 1 of the Charitable Fundraising Regulation 2021. Non-compliance penalties apply.
- Even if you don’t raise any funds but an appeal was registered, records must be kept for up to 7 years.
- Any money received during an appeal must be paid into a trust account at an authorised institution before expenses are deducted.
- You may still deduct lawful and proper expenses from the proceeds, but you cannot be paid for conducting or participating in the appeal. A minimum of 50 per cent of donated funds raised must go to the beneficiary.
- If you are an ACNC registered charity and also hold a NSW authority to fundraise you will have reporting obligations to both ACNC and NSW Fair Trading. You can meet both these obligations by providing your NSW annual return and statement of compliance with your ACNC Annual Information Statement directly (AIS) to the ACNC portal.
All fundraising appeals (with and without an authority) must:
Keep records of income and expenditure
- These must be kept for a period of 7 years after the appeal ends, be readily accessible and show the charitable purpose the money was raised for.
Other documentation you must keep up-to-date and accessible for a period of at least 3 years includes:
- a register of assets
- a petty cash book (if petty cash is used)
- a cash book (for each account receiving income from the appeal)
- a register of the receipts issued
- a register of receipt books (if you used more than 3 receipt books in the year)
- records of all people involved in the appeal (including traders, employees and volunteers) and what activities they were involved in.
Keeping records of ‘minutes’ for at least 3 years of any:
- business the organisation’s governing body carried out related to the fundraising appeal
- general meeting or extraordinary meeting.
To learn how to maintain these records see the Charitable Fundraising Guidelines.
Important: Any money received during an appeal must be paid into an account at an authorised institution before expenses are deducted.
Financial reporting requirements
Please note that if you raise less than $15,000 in a financial year and do not hold a fundraising authority you may still be required to produce financial records related to the appeal – therefore you must maintain good records for 7 years.
If you raise more than $15,000 in a financial year you require an authority.
If you are an authority holder you are required to submit financial reports annually, regardless of how much money you raise. The annual return form can be lodged online.
All fundraisers that raise more than $15,000 gross in a financial year are required to:
- lodge an annual return (outlined below)
- sign the statement of compliance at the bottom of the annual return form
- include an annual financial statement (outlined below)
Fundraisers that raise more than $100,000 but less than $250,000 are also required to:
- include an annual financial statement with notes to the financial statement
In addition to an annual financial statement, fundraisers that exceed $250,000 or more (from all fundraising appeals) are also required to:
- include an annual auditor’s report for your accounts from all your fundraising appeals. This report must be submitted along with the annual return, regardless of whether or not the auditor identifies any problems or matters of concern.
Annual return requirements
A signed annual return form must be submitted:
- by every authority holder
- within 6 months of the end of the financial year
- even if no money was received or no appeal was conducted
- completing the annual return form and containing the following details:
- your details (name, addresses, phone, email, website etc)
- the details of any traders you’ve engaged for your appeals
- the beneficiaries, charitable purpose, and duration of your fundraising appeals
- the annual financial statement (outlined below)
- auditor’s report (if your fundraiser(s) raised more than $250,000 in a financial year).
Annual financial statement requirements
The annual financial statement must be prepared according to the Australian Accounting Standards.
It must include:
- an income statement (summarising income and expenditure for the financial year)
- a balance sheet (summarising assets and liabilities at the end of the financial year)
- a statement of cash flows
- if more than $100,000 gross is received from a fundraising appeal, notes to the financial statement.
‘Notes to the financial statement’ are supplemental notes used to explain the assumptions used to prepare the numbers in financial statements and details of the accounting policies used.
If you are an organisation, the annual financial statement must also include a signed declaration that:
- your organisation can pay all of its debts when they are due
- the financial statement satisfies the requirements of the Act and Regulation
- the contents of the statement are true and fair
- your organisation has appropriate and effective internal controls.
If you are an organisation that receives more than $100,000 gross from a fundraising appeal, your organisation’s income statement and balance sheet must also include:
- details of accounting principles and methods used in preparing the financial statements
- details of a material matter or occurrence (even if adverse in nature)
- a statement on how the net surplus or deficit from a fundraising appeal in the financial year was applied
- the aggregate gross income and aggregate direct expenditure incurred in all appeals conducted in the financial year.
Payment of board members
If a person serving on the governing body of an organisation is receiving remuneration, payment or other benefit from the organisation then approval is required in advance. An application for approval must be made in writing and sent in advance by email to Charity Inquiries or by post to PO Box 22 Bathurst, NSW 2795.
This should include:
- name of director/s, and;
- the amount of the remuneration paid and/or details of the benefits received, and;
- a copy of the relevant clause/s in the governing document that provides for the remuneration or benefits received by members of the governing body.
Details of the amount of remuneration and/or benefit received is only required to be disclosed if it is received as a direct result of holding office as a member of the governing body of the authorised fundraiser. For example, the remuneration or benefit is received by payment of a director’s fee, salary or allowance, or by the provision of free accommodation, a car, etc.
Notifying of any changes
You must notify us when details change for your organisation or appeal such as changes to authority holder’s:
- contact person/s
- name or address
- charitable purpose for which the appeal is being or is to be conducted
- incorporation status
- branches whether commencing or ceasing
- auditor whether commencing or ceasing
- traders of the authority holder whether commencing or ceasing.
For further instructions on how to do this go to change details on charitable fundraising authority.
You must also tell us within 28 days when certain events happen, including when:
- you have decided to stop fundraising
- your ACNC-registration is revoked or suspended
- you become insolvent
- you become aware that information or a document provided in an annual return was misleading or deceptive in a material particular
- a material error is identified in an annual financial statement accompanying an annual return lodged by the authority holder.
- the authority holder becomes insolvent, is placed in liquidation or under external administration or is wound up
- a member of the governing body of the authority holder, is convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty for which the maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for not less than 3 months
- the authority holder (for an individual) or a member of the governing body or a trustee becomes bankrupt
- the authority holder (for an individual) or a member of the governing body or a trustee is convicted of fraud or dishonesty
Australian Consumer Law guidance and obligations
Charities and fundraisers carrying out activities in trade or commerce, such as
- a fundraising activity involving a supply of goods or services, or
- are a for-profit professional fundraiser, or
- are fundraising in an organised, continuous and repetitive way
have obligations under the ACL.
For a full list of these obligations visit the Australian Consumer Law website.
For further details about the requirements for fundraising in NSW you can read the Charitable Fundraising Guidelines.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) has resources to help you start and manage a charity. Read more about:
If you have any enquiries about charitable fundraising responsibilities you can email Fair Trading or call 13 32 20.