Proposed border harmony to assist charity fundraising

Physical border closures might be dividing some parts of the country, but at least our charity sector could benefit from reforms intended to harmonise national fundraising across state and territory borders.

The reduction in bureaucratic regulations that would apply to organisations registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is outlined in the discussion paper, Proposed Cross-border recognition model for charitable fundraisers.

The federal government has signalled it supports the potential for charitable organisations to fundraise across state/territory borders (with the exception of the Northern Territory) without encountering seven different types of red tape.

“The release of this discussion paper is a significant step towards reducing the unnecessary red-tape burden our charities face,” announced Senator Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters in a September press release.

While submissions to Proposed Cross-border recognition model for charitable fundraisers have already closed, the discussion paper can still be downloaded here.

If you are operating an Australian registered NFP the proposed changes will in principal make it easier to fundraise. Following are some of the key features addressed in the discussion paper:

Deemed authorities – Each ACNC-registered charity could be deemed to hold a local fundraising authority in each participating jurisdiction. This would overcome the need for an individual application process in each jurisdiction and would greatly facilitate the conduct of online appeals across Australia.

Notification requirements – Each ACNC registered charity would still be required to complete a notification process to advise the relevant regulator in that location and to comply with any relevant local regulatory requirements. An online notification process is considered optimal.

Auditing Requirements – While there are variations between jurisdictions, many jurisdictions have already harmonised their audit and reporting requirements with those of the ACNC, or have moved (or are moving to) exempt ACNC-registered entities from local audit and reporting requirements. Under the proposed model, each jurisdiction would have the option of requiring registered charities to comply with local auditing requirements or obtain copies of financial information from the ACNC as an alternative means of satisfying the local requirements.

Information sharing agreements – To support this model, participating jurisdictions could enter into an information sharing agreement for the purposes of establishing a shared register of deemed authority holders and for other purposes related to authorities issued in other jurisdictions.

The discussion paper notes, “As there are no application fees for charitable fundraising authorities in any jurisdiction there would not be any loss of revenue for individual jurisdictions. Furthermore, this model should deliver administrative cost savings for both fundraisers and regulators.”

At a time when many charities are dealing with the impact of COVID-19 any decrease in red tape would be welcomed so they can focus on the provision of much-needed community services.

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