Not-for-profit Law
Legal help for community organisations

Fundraising

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Fundraising is an important source of income for many charities and not-for-profits. 

Unfortunately, fundraising laws can be tricky to navigate. Not-for-profit Law is working to improve fundraising laws for charities and not-for-profits

In the meantime, the resources on this page will help you work out whether your fundraising is covered by fundraising laws, and whether you need to get a licence or approval for your fundraising.

There are different fundraising laws in each state and territory, so if you are fundraising in several states or territories you will need to consider the laws in each of those places.

What is fundraising?

Fundraising is defined differently under the various regulatory regimes in each state and territory, and may be referred to by a different term. (For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, fundraising is referred to as 'charitable collections'). In general, the following types of activities are fundraising:

  • requesting donations to help a person, cause or organisation (whether in person or online)
  • selling merchandise or memberships where some or all of the profits will go towards helping a person, cause or organisation, or
  • holding events to raise money for a person, cause or organisation

Do we need a licence and in which states or territories?

If you are fundraising locally (for example by holding trivia nights in your area), then you only need to comply with the fundraising laws of the state or territory that you are in (and in certain circumstances, local council regulations). 

If you are fundraising online, you will need to think about whether you are fundraising more broadly than the state or territory that you are based in. You should consider how your campaign will be promoted. If you will actively promote your campaign in several states or territories, then you will need to consider whether you need a licence, and what laws apply to your fundraising, in each of those states or territories.

Larger organisations sometimes run national campaigns. Where this is the case, the organisation will need to consider and comply with each state and territory's fundraising laws.

We are an ACNC-registered charity – what are our fundraising requirements?

Some states and territories don’t require ACNC-registered charities to apply for a fundraising licence. In these states and territories, ACNC registration itself is enough to allow a charity to fundraise, as long as any notification requirements are fulfilled. However, a fundraising licence is still required for registered charities in some jurisdictions.

The current position for registered charities is summarised below:

Where ACNC-registered charities are required to apply for a licence

Where ACNC-registered charities are not required to apply for a licence 

New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia

Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia

The following fact sheet provides an overview of fundraising licence requirements for ACNC-registered charities in each state and territory.

The following fact sheet provides an overview of fundraising application processes and requirements in each Australian state and territory. 

The following guide provides an overview of the different fundraising regimes across Australia. It's designed to help organisations that fundraise in multiples states and territories to navigate the different regimes and provides summaries of the various legal requirements that apply. This guide should not be considered a comprehensive overview of how to comply with fundraising laws in every jurisdiction. There are more detailed guides for each state and territory below.

Other laws that can apply

There are a range of other laws that might be relevant to your fundraising. In particular, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) sets out rules against misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct. If your organisation makes a representation that it will do something in particular with funds raised, then it should be careful to keep that promise.  For more information about the ACL, see Not-for-profit Law's guide, 'The Laws of advertising and your community organisation' on our Advertising page.

If your fundraising involves trade promotions or gaming activities, you may need additional permits:

  • trade promotions - which are competitions where there is no (or minimal) cost to enter, or entry is granted when a person purchases a product or ticket to an event and a prize is offered. Trade promotion prizes can be awarded on chance alone, or include an element of skill such as 'in 25 words or less...'. These promotions can be 'complete a survey and win', door prizes, and other promotional competitions. There are special laws that apply to all trade promotions.
  • raffles and minor gaming activities - (including bingo, gaming nights, lotteries, lucky envelopes, sweepstakes) - where people purchase a ticket or pay money to enter a game or competition. There are special laws that apply to these activities.

Auditing of fundraising accounts

Each state and territory has its own different rules relating to fundraising. The meaning of 'audit' and 'auditor' is also different under each of these fundraising regimes.

The fact sheet below features a table which provides an overview of the different definitions of 'auditor' under the relevant fundraising regime. It is designed to help organisations meet their reporting obligations when they engage in regulated fundraising activities.

The Fundraising Guide explains:

  • which activities are considered fundraising activities in Victoria
  • when your group will need to register to fundraise
  • ongoing obligations for all fundraisers (whether required to be registered or not), such as maintaining a special fundraising bank account
  • other laws groups need to consider when fundraising (such as lottery permits)
  • when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states
  • issues to consider when fundraising online, and
  • issues to consider when using third party fundraisers.

Related links

This is a link to more information on fundraising, published by the Victorian regulator of not-for-profits

The Fundraising Guide explains:

  • which activities are considered fundraising activities in NSW
  • when your group will need to register to fundraise
  • ongoing obligations for all fundraisers (whether required to be registered or not) such as maintaining a special fundraising bank account
  • other laws groups need to consider when fundraising (such as lottery permits)
  • when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states
  • issues to consider when fundraising online, and
  • issues to consider when using third party fundraisers.

Related links

This is a link to NSW Fair Trading, the regulator of fundraising in NSW.

This is a link to more fundraising information published by the NSW Licensing service. 

The Fundraising Guide explains:

  • which activities are considered fundraising activities in Queensland
  • when your group will need to register to fundraise
  • ongoing obligations for all fundraisers (whether required to be registered or not)
  • other laws that groups need to consider when fundraising
  • when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states
  • issues to consider when fundraising online, and
  • issues to consider when using third party fundraisers.

Related links

The Fundraising Guide explains:

  • which activities are considered fundraising activities in South Australia
  • when your group will need to obtain a Collections for Charitable Purposes Licence
  • obligations after obtaining a Collections for Charitable Purposes Licence
  • tax concessions
  • when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states
  • issues to consider when fundraising online, and
  • issues to consider when using third party fundraisers.

Related links

The following fact sheet on fundraising and minor gaming explains:

  • whether an individual or group needs authority to fundraise
  • applying for a community gaming permit, and
  • ongoing obligations for a community gaming permit holder.

Related links

The Fundraising Guide covers the following topics:

  • what is fundraising in the Australian Capital Territory
  • applying for a charitable collection licence
  • tax concessions
  • when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states, and
  • issues to consider when fundraising online.

Related links

The Fundraising Guide explains:

  • which activities are considered fundraising activities in Tasmania
  • when your group will need to obtain approval to fundraise
  • relevant permissions and laws and obligations after obtaining a solicit for a charitable purpose
  • tax concessions
  • when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states
  • issues to consider when fundraising online, and
  • issues to consider when using third party fundraisers.

Related links

Make an enquiry

Our lawyers are experts in fundraising law. Your organisation may be eligible for our free legal advice service. To find out, please complete the online enquiry form below. Using the online form is the quickest and easiest way for us to deal with your enquiry and means that we can respond to you sooner (usually within 48 business hours) and let you know how we might be able to assist. Find out more information about eligibility on our Legal Advice page

Last Updated: 07 October 2020

We're fixing fundraising laws

We're fixing fundraising laws

We know fundraising laws are inconsistent, frustrating and not-for-profits waste time on compliance. We have a proposal to fix them. Sign up to support our #fixfundraising campaign.

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