The plight of our drought-stricken farmers has touched the hearts and minds of the nation, prompting an outpouring of goodwill and the organisation of numerous fundraising campaigns including food drives and sausage sizzles. So, are there any legal requirements that you must keep in mind if you want to hold your own fundraising event to help out?
The short answer is yes. In NSW, charitable fundraising is regulated by the Charitable Fundraising Act and Regulation, which is overseen by NSW Fair Trading. Under this law, if you wish to fundraise in NSW for a charitable purpose (and fundraising to help the welfare of farmers would fall within this definition) you generally need to obtain a charitable fundraising authority. If you wish to fundraise in other states or territories, you will need to consider the fundraising requirements for each of those states/territories.
A charitable fundraising authority is applied for through NSW Fair Trading, and, if granted, will permit that person/organisation to fundraise for a certain period of time. The authority also imposes strict conditions that the fundraiser must comply with, including in relation to the depositing of funds, and keeping of records.
If you or your organisation are expecting to receive less than $15,000 from fundraising in a financial year, then you are regarded as a “small fundraiser” and exempt from requiring a fundraising authority. Certain religious organisations, local councils, and universities are also exempt from requiring such an authority. That said, care needs to be taken when estimating whether you fall within such an exemption. Fundraising events (particularly those with a novelty factor) can be quickly seized upon by social media and snowball to a scale that the organiser never expected, thus exceeding the $15,000 limit. You also want to take care not to end up liable for paying tax on any funds raised as, unless you are a charity or not-for-profit, you are unlikely to be eligible to receive any tax concessions.
To avoid the burden of obtaining your own charitable fundraising authority, one alternative is to locate a charity with a fundraising authority whose work covers the charitable purpose you are seeking to fundraise for and request that they authorise you to fundraise on their behalf. You would still need to comply with any fundraising terms and conditions that have been imposed on that charity as part of their authority; however, as you would be handing over any funds raised under the campaign, the charity would then be liable for any taxation payable on funds collected (although the charity would usually have access to tax exemptions with the ATO).
In the context of raising funds for farmers, examples of charities that you could potentially fundraise on behalf of include: Rural Aid (which also oversees Buy a Bale), Drought Angels, Aussie Helpers, and Red Cross. We recommend looking at their individual websites to see the specific work they undertake and their requirements to authorise fundraising.
Once the legalities of an authority is out of the way, the focus can then be on conducting your great fundraising initiative to support our farmers.
If you need assistance in relation to fundraising authorities, please give Jenkins Legal Services a call on 02 4929 2000 or email email@example.com.
This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.