CEO Update

Members discuss red tape reform with new Charities Minister

As this email hits your inbox, I’m with a group of FIA members in Canberra for a roundtable with Commonwealth Assistant Minister for Charities the Hon Zed Seselja to discuss ideas for red tape reform. Another meeting is planned for Sydney later this week.

This follows my recent one-on-one meeting with the Minister who declared he was open to considering how FIA’s idea of using the ACNC portal as a means of providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for registering national campaigns.

The Minister has made it clear that he is looking for ‘evidence’ from the sector to support the case for Commonwealth leadership on red tape reduction. So, these meetings are about telling him your ‘stories’. The three outcomes we are seeking:

  • a commitment from the Minister to provide political leadership on fundraising red tape
  • confirmation of support for the idea of a ‘one-stop’ registration portal via the ACNC
  • commitment to a timetable for reform.

Senator Seselja has also identified crowdfunding and other internet-based fundraising as areas where the Commonwealth needs to take action.

Webinar on Code monitoring results

I hope you will be listening on Thursday, 26 September, for our webinar on effective self-regulation in fundraising, where we reveal the latest results from our mystery shopping of member compliance with the FIA Code.

Each quarter, the Code Authority commissions research to check if members are abiding by some aspect of the Code. In recent times the focus has been on how fundraisers treat vulnerable donors. But we also look at donor care issues; for example, how donors are treated after they make a donation and whether charities are complying with privacy laws when they swap donor lists.

We have also been examining how well charities respond to requests to opt-out of fundraising appeals. Tune in to hear the results! You may find them surprising. Register here.

FIA asks the Government not to ramp up privacy restrictions

The Government’s inquiry into digital platforms has morphed into a much broader examination of the adequacy of our privacy laws in the digital age.

The final report, instead of taking a surgical approach to addressing the behaviours of the Googles and Facebooks of the world, has recommended ‘economy-wide’ changes to privacy laws. Ironically, this would have minimal effects on their intended target but would have a considerable impact on charities, including ones that earn less than $3 million per annum, the threshold for compliance with the Privacy Act.  

In its submission, FIA was able to anticipate the likely impact of new privacy laws on the ability of fundraisers to contact potential and existing donors, as it would be similar to that faced by charities in Europe under the new GDPR regime. Many Australian charities have close links with their counterparts in Europe where introduction of the GDPR a year ago has had a depressing impact on the sector.

FIA recommended that the Australian Privacy Principles be left as they are for charities and not-for-profit sectors because:

  • the red-tape-imposing recommendations have failed to adequately take into account the impacts of two major Australian Government data and privacy initiatives such as the Consumer Data Right legislation
  • the power of donors in relation to charities has increased significantly since the inception of the ACNC which has given priority to providing as much information as possible to donors so they can make informed decisions
  • the relationship of a donor to a charity is different from that of a consumer and a supplier of goods or services. A donation is a gift given unconditionally. Goods or services are purchased by a consumer with the expectation they will meet the claims made for them and redress is available if not.

FIA urged the Government not to act upon recommendations for economy-wide amendments to privacy law without further consultation with sectors of the economy, such as fundraising, which were not the intended targets of the DPI. This is both in the interest of consistent public policy and to allay the concerns these recommendations are already generating in the charitable fundraising sector. 

Katherine Raskob

Chief Executive Officer