CEO Update

Last Monday, FIA was asked to weigh in on the Israel Folau saga. As you may know, the sports star had his contract torn up by Rugby Australia in late May after posting controversial comments on his Instagram page. He then launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds so he could mount a legal defence against his former employer. This divided the country and caused a media uproar. It ended with GoFundMe taking down his page, citing a breach of its ‘terms and conditions’ as the reason.

I gave interviews on regional ABC Radio in Victoria and NSW, as well as comment for Pro Bono Australia. While I couldn’t comment on Folau’s individual circumstances, I did talk about the need for donors to take care when considering crowdfunding appeals as they are often from individuals, not registered charities.

I also discussed how traditional charities like our members are safer bets for donating as they operate under proper governance structures and are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission so listeners could be assured of their legitimacy, as well as having the benefits of a tax deduction.

I appreciated the chance to talk about fundraising and offer some advice to listeners. It is encouraging that mainstream media outlets are increasingly turning to FIA for comment when issues arise.

I’m in London this week to attend the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention where I will be interested in hearing how the General Data Protection Regulation, a unified regulation in the European Union to deal with consumer data protection, has affected fundraising. For Australians, it’s essential to understand how the GDPR applies to businesses outside the EU, including charities. While the GDPR protects the personal data of those who live in the EU, in the digital era that information can be collected and used by organisations outside Europe. So, if an Australian charity receives a donation from an EU citizen, it could be subject to the GDPR regime.

It will also be useful to discover new speakers we might bring to our conference in the coming years and see how I can work with my counterparts from across the world on fundraising issues at the global level.

Shortly after I return from the UK, I have a meeting scheduled with Kevin Anderson, the new NSW minister responsible for fundraising issues. Mr Anderson comes from Tamworth where he has been an active supporter of FIA members like the Salvation Army and Ronald MacDonald House.

I will be urging him to hold fast to the previously announced fundraising reform schedule which would see red tape slashed from the start of 2020. I’m particularly interested in that bugbear of all FIA members: the need to get approvals for and report on each and every appeal and campaign!

Following recent Victoria, NSW and federal elections, we have focused our lobbying effort around a two-year timeframe for national harmonisation, as recommended by the Senate Select Committee in February. We are urging all Australian governments to commit to this timetable at the next meeting where ministers responsible for fundraising meet – the Consumer Affairs Forum – which is slated for August. I will keep you posted on that conversation.

Katherine Raskob

Chief Executive Officer