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Charity regulator raises concerns over fundraising practices

Following recent media reports into for-profit fundraising agencies, the national charity regulator has partnered with peak bodies to help charities protect themselves, fundraisers and the public.

The guidance, produced in conjunction with the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), helps charities manage existing relationships with fundraisers and enter into new agreements, while ensuring they meet their obligations as a registered charity.

Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), Susan Pascoe AM, highlighted the risk to public trust and confidence in charities as the impetus for releasing the new guidance.

“Raising funds is an important part of operating an effective charity,” Ms Pascoe said.

“Without appropriate funding and support, a charity cannot possibly achieve its charitable purpose.

“While some charities manage their own fundraising, many contract professional agencies to conduct activities on their behalf. This is often the most efficient and cost effective way for charities to raise funds.

“Recently we have seen media reports that allege that some of these agencies have been engaging in inappropriate work place practices, and may have also broken Australian employment laws.

“These allegations raise serious concerns, as they undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on the public’s trust and confidence in Australia’s charity sector.”

Ms Pascoe said that ultimately the charity’s board oversees its good governance and reputation, and needs to take prudent action in relation to the contractors it engages.

“Charity boards cannot outsource their responsibilities,” Ms Pascoe said.

“The board should be satisfied that the fundraising agency they have contracted is aware of its legal obligations, has appropriate policies and processes to ensure compliance, and also shares the values of the charity.

“A charity must have appropriate oversight of all of the activities conducted by a fundraising agency in the name of the charity.

“Charities run the real risk of damaging public trust and confidence in both their brand, and the sector more widely, if they are being inappropriately represented by third-party fundraisers in the community.”

Paul Tavatgis, CEO of the PFRA – the self-regulatory body for face to face fundraising in Australia – welcomed the new guidance and encouraged charities to consider the PFRA Standard.

“Engaging fundraising agencies can be tricky, particularly for new or inexperienced charity boards,” Mr Tavatgis said.

“This guidance, which the PFRA was proud to contribute to, will help charities appropriately manage these relationships.

“We also recommend that charities using face to face fundraising sign up to the PFRA Standard, which is a set of rules that define how a face to face fundraiser should behave. 

“All face to face fundraisers engaged by PFRA member charities and agencies must comply with the PFRA Standard.”

Rob Edwards, CEO of the FIA, welcomed the ACNC's position on governance practices for charities using fundraising agencies.

“As the national peak body representing professional fundraising in Australia, FIA believes that the fundraising sector can only remain sustainable when there is strong public trust,” Mr Edwards said.

“FIA’s Principles & Standards of Fundraising Practice are the professional fundraiser’s guide to ethical, accountable and transparent fundraising.

“The Principles & Standards are critical to how the fundraising profession is viewed by donors, government and the community”

The guidance document can be found on the ACNC website

 From ACNC Media Release 


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