Fundraising in Victoria is regulated by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) and the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic).
The Fundraising Act 1998 defines a fundraiser as any person or organisation, including a business, that collects money for a beneficiary, cause or thing, rather than solely for their own profit or commercial benefit. Generally a fundraising activity is an activity which:
- targets the public (ie. people outside your organisation)
- seeks money or other benefits, such as goods or services (eg. food, clothes)
- involves asking for money or a benefit not solely for profit or commercial benefit.
Fundraising appeals include things like door-knock appeals, telemarketing, traffic intersection/highway collections, appeals run by commercial fundraisers, public appeals to support a club, association or an environmental or community cause, public appeals to support a cause or person or group of persons, or the selling of goods where portions of the sale price are donated to a charitable organisation or cause.
Unless exempted from registration, anyone wishing to conduct a fundraising appeal is required to register with CAV before the fundraising commences. The purpose of the registration scheme is to protect consumers by helping to ensure fundraising is transparent and that people are aware of how and where their money is spent.
CAV maintains an on-line public register that is a list of all currently registered fundraisers. The register enables members of the public to determine whether or not a fundraiser they are considering donating to has applied for and received registration. It contains certain information about each registered fundraiser, including details of how to contact them.
Some fundraisers are exempt from the need to register with CAV and some organisations are exempted by the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic).
There is a general exemption from registration for groups that raise less than $10,000 (gross or total amounts before deductions and tax) in a financial year and use unpaid volunteers. There are other categories of exempt organisations, which are listed on the CAV website. Relevantly, they include political parties registered under the Victorian and Commonwealth Electoral Acts, trade unions, schools and tertiary education providers.
Organisations that undertake only the following activities are not required to register:
- Raffles, lotteries or other gaming activities authorised or permitted under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (raffles and bingo require a separate permit from the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation website)
- Asking a person to pay a fee to become a member of an organisation
- Fundraising that takes place within an organisation and is targeted at past and present members and their relatives (rather than the general public), even if the fundraising is for an outside cause
- Fundraising in the workplace for the benefit of an employee or his or her close family
- Receiving grants from a government body
- Receiving sponsorships from commercial organisations (such as corporations, partnerships or trusts) permitted to donate money or benefits to charity
- Memorial gifts (such as donations in lieu of flowers being sent to a funeral).
However it is important to remember that being an exempt organisation exempts you from registration as a ‘fundraiser’ with CAV only. Exempt organisations are still required to comply with the other obligations related to the fundraising activity eg, to keep accurate financial records. If you are unclear as to whether your organisation or activity is exempt from the need to register in Victoria, you should contact CAV on 1300 55 81 81 or visit Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
You can register by completing an Application for Fundraiser Registration form. Registration is free. If you have to register, you must do so at least 28 days before you propose to commence fundraising. It is an offence to conduct a fundraising appeal unless you are registered or exempt from the need to be registered. Conditions may be imposed on your registration. For example, you may be required to ensure that a specified percentage of the appeal proceeds are distributed to the appeal beneficiaries.
As fundraising regulation is State-based, if you intend to raise money in other States or Territories then you may also need to register as a fundraiser in those jurisdictions.
Depending on the type of fundraising activity, you may also need to obtain permission from other organisations.
Appeals which require permission are:
- Door knock appeals - you will require permission from the local council of the area in which the door knock is to be conducted
- Traffic intersection collections (highway collections) - If Consumer Affairs Victoria allows you to conduct highway collections, you will also require permission from the local council of the area in which you are collecting and a highway collection permit from Victoria Police. Highway collection permits are available from the Victoria Police Road Safety Awareness & Information Unit – phone (03) 9247 5779, or go to the Victoria Police website
A separate permit may be required to conduct certain gaming activities such as raffles or bingo. For more information on obligations for holding a raffle or lottery, see the Raffles and Minor Gaming fact sheet on the PilchConnect website or the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation website.
There are a range of obligations on fundraisers including the notification of certain changes to your details to CAV, timely banking of funds raised, maintenance and retention of accurate financial records, keeping a separate bank account for funds raised, the distribution of funds raised to nominated beneficiaries, the use of collection containers, the use of identification badges, and the conduct of telephone fundraisers.
For further details on fundraising for Victorian community organisations, including information on registration and exemptions, check out the Fundraising Guide on the PilchConnect website, or contact Consumer Affairs Victoria.