Charities burdened by fundraising red tape

An independent survey of more than 600 charities and NFPs reveals a significant number of Australian charities are caught up in fundraising red tape that limits their capacity to pursue essential fundraising activities and philanthropic support.

The Fundraising Survey 2021 report highlights that 40 percent of Australian charities find current fundraising rules are “an unnecessary financial burden” while 1 in 5 charities believe the current rules and regulations have become an impediment to fundraising.


Under the current laws, charities and NFPs are required to complete multiple registrations across different states and territories, depending on where they conduct fundraising activities. Given that the majority of charities now use online fundraising, many are legally required to be registered and compliant across every jurisdiction, putting an unreasonable burden on organisations.

Some states, such as Queensland, Victoria, WA and NSW, have particularly onerous fundraising regulations that put undue pressure on charities with limited staffing and financial capacity.

Nationally, the majority of organisations surveyed found the fundraising regulation process to be very complex with a lot of excessive information required or somewhat complex, and a substantial percentage also found the registration process to be slow. The Northern Territory and the ACT were found to have the most efficient regulations, with charities operating in these jurisdictions reporting comparatively simple registration processes and quick turnaround times.

The complex regulatory landscape means that many organisations, particularly small charities with limited resources, find it unnecessarily difficult to seek donations and philanthropic support. It can also mean that philanthropic grant money is redirected towards compliance and away from service delivery and vital community support.

Ensuring charities can access and channel philanthropic funding to services and support is critically important – particularly as Australia continues to grapple with the evolving impacts of the pandemic, and with so many communities across the country still on the long road to recovery from the Black Summer bushfires.

As the peak body for philanthropy and part of the #FixFundraising coalition, Philanthropy Australia has long advocated to reform fundraising laws as part of our policy platform.

Our Policy Priorities for a Post COVID-19 Australia, released in 2020, highlighted the importance of removing barriers to giving, including Australia’s complex and outdated fundraising laws.

Our recently released Blueprint to Grow Structured Giving, a roadmap to double structured giving to $5 billion annually by 2030, identifies the critical need to enhance the building blocks of giving in Australia. This includes developing the fundraising capacity of Australian charities, which goes hand in hand with increasing the efficacy of fundraising initiatives. As we enter stage 2 of the Blueprint process and begin to implement our initiatives, it becomes ever more important that outdated systems are reformed to best facilitate giving in Australia.

The #FixFundraising coalition is made up of Justice Connect, Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Governance Institute of Australia, CPA Australia, Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), Community Council for Australia (CCA) and Philanthropy Australia.

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