FIA Braces for New Parliamentary Inquiry into Fundraising

Senator Anthony Chisholm may not be well-known outside his home state of Queensland but that will change as far as our sector is concerned if his proposal to set up a parliamentary committee into charitable fundraising is approved by the Senate later this month.

From the terms of reference he has proposed it is clear that he really understands the issues facing fundraisers. For instance, his proposal would have the committee reviewing “whether the current framework of fundraising regulation creates unnecessary problems for charities and organisations who rely on donations from Australian supporters”.

The whole tone, manner and content of Senator Chisholm’s proposal is different from the federal interventions of the past year which have resulted in more, not less red tape. The motion proposes:

That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Charitable Fundraising Compliance Regimes, be established to inquire into and report on the current framework of fundraising regulation for charities and options for reform, with particular reference to:

(a)   whether the current framework of fundraising regulation creates unnecessary problems for charities and organisations who rely on donations from Australian supporters;

(b)   whether current fundraising laws meet the objectives that guided the decision to regulate donations;

(c)   whether current fundraising compliance regimes allow charities to cultivate donor activity and make optimal use of resources donors provide;

(d)   the loss in productivity for the thousands of charities who try to meet the requirements of the seven different fundraising regimes;

(e)   whether the current frameworks for investigation and enforcement are the best model for the contemporary fundraising environment;

(f)   how Federal, State and Territory Governments could work together to provide charities with a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose fundraising regime;

(g)   the appropriate donor-focused expectations and requirements that should govern fundraising regulation in the 21st century;

(h)   how the Australian consumer law should apply to not-for-profit fundraising activities;

(i)   what are the best mechanisms to regulate third party fundraisers and to ensure the culture of third party fundraisers matches community perceptions of the clients they work with;

(j)   whether a harmonised, contemporary fundraising regime could help in addressing concerns about the potential influence of foreign money on civil society and political debate in Australia;

(k)   the cost to the charity and not-for-profit sector, and the communities they serve, of postponing fundraising reform; and


While Senator Chisholm is best known as a former state secretary of the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party, he also has a strong hands-on background in charitable fundraising. He spoke of this in his first parliamentary speech after his election in 2016.

“My family has a long history of helping with fundraising and other activities at Niran”, he told the Senate. Niran is a house in Brisbane providing full-time residential care for disabled adults.

“The work I have done with St Vincent de Paul in my local community over the last seven years has given me a tremendous insight into the struggles many families have”, he went on to say.

FIA will monitor Senator Chisholm’s progress on this issue and keep members informed. It is heartening to know there are voices in Canberra with a deep and sympathetic understanding of our issues.

To read the proposal for a Select Committee on Charitable Fundraising:;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fjournals%2F825b6a06-0b31-43bb-8fa0-07d88301d332%2F0007%22