Country Idealist Profiles

Victoria (Aus) – Exemptions from the requirement to register

Many organisations engaging in fundraising are exempt from the requirement to register and the associated record-keeping and disclosure requirements. Exemptions apply to the following organisations:

• state schools and council registered schools;

• universities, TAFE colleges and other tertiary educational institutions;

• hospitals and other registered funded agencies under the

Health Services Act (Vic) 1998;

• religious bodies with the authority to conduct marriages;

• registered political parties;

• registered trade unions and registered workplace relations or industrial relations organisations;

• kindergartens and other licensed children’s services that funding for pre-school programs;

• NFP organisations that receive less than $10,000 gross in a financial year from fundraising and use only unpaid volunteers; and

• the Anti Cancer Council.

Except for NFP organisations that receive less than $10,000 gross in a financial year from fundraising and use only unpaid volunteers, all these categories of NFPs are also exempt from the record-keeping and reporting requirements under the Fundraising Appeals Act.

Submissions to the Review indicated that it is widely perceived within the NFP sector that the large numbers of exemptions detract from the value of having a register. It is not apparent to a public contributor whether a fundraiser does not appear on the register for the reason that it is legitimately exempt or is conducting illegitimate activities.

The fundraising regulatory burden falls unevenly on the sector as there are a number of exemptions which favour those exempted organisations and assist them to reduce compliance costs. This is unsatisfactory when the public has an interest in the costs of fundraising and the regulator an even greater interest … Exemptions have the potential to compromise public trust and impact on the transparency and accountability of the industry. Fundraising Institute of Australia submission

Exemptions to the Register were not considered in detail by the Review as the issues relate to coverage of the Act rather than administrative burden. However, the concerns raised by participants are valid and warrant further consideration as they raise broader questions relating to the achievement of good regulatory outcomes for fundraising. As the objective of the fundraising register is to provide public information on fundraising and maintain public confidence, arguably all organisations conducting fundraising activities should be subject to the same record-keeping and disclosure requirements. To that end, bringing currently exempt organisations under the scrutiny of the Act would ensure completeness of the register and thereby improve disclosure.

However, removing the exemptions may impose a new administrative burden if exempt organisations are not currently keeping or disclosing their fundraising records to the public. The degree of public disclosure by exempt organisations is unclear. To the extent that exempt organisations already report publicly on fundraising activities, bringing them under the Act would not impose a new administrative burden. A detailed examination of exemptions to the register and administrative impacts of removing the exemptions should be undertaken by DOJ.

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