Key changes to the Victorian Fundraising Act
December 2019 | News | Alex Milner
The Victorian Parliament has passed the Consumer Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Vic) which will significantly amend the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic). The amendments will come into force on 31 August 2020 or an earlier date by proclamation.
The amendments grant ACNC registered charities a right to fundraise in Victoria without a fundraising licence. Under the amendments, such entities will become ‘deemed registered fundraisers’.
This ‘automatic’ right is revokable, similar to the South Australian model, and it will still require compliance with certain conditions. These conditions include that the deemed registered fundraiser has not contravened the Act or paid excessive commissions or other remuneration.
In addition, a new s23AD requires a deemed registered fundraiser to notify Consumer Affairs Victoria in writing within 28 days after entering into the retention agreement with the commercial fundraiser, where that commercial fundraiser is to administer all or part of a fundraising appeal. This new section mirrors the existing s24A provisions for registered fundraisers. The provision is subject to a penalty of 240 penalty units (for corporations) and 120 penalty units (non-corporations) or imprisonment for 12 months or both. Relevantly, these thresholds will bring this provision within the ambit of Governance Standard 3.
The amendments are a welcome step forward in reducing some of the complexities and inefficiencies of fundraising laws, but there are significant areas still needing reform and simplification.
For example, the proposed amendments don’t clarify what exactly is meant by a “commercial fundraiser”. The term is currently defined as, “a person who is retained on a commercial basis by another person to administer all or part of a fundraising appeal for the other person”, which leaves open the question as whether it captures not only commercial fundraising businesses but also remunerated employees/contractors who ‘administer’ a fundraising appeal (e.g. Director of Fundraising roles).
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