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Frequently Asked Questions

FIA offers members general guidance on fundraising issues, but cannot give specific financial or legal advice. Please email members@fia.org.au if you have a policy inquiry.

FIA recommends members obtain independent financial or legal advice as required.

The ACNC has created a comprehensive guide to starting a charity, for more information, please click here.

Starting a Charity

Fundraising Events

Privacy & Information Disclosure

Remuneration of Fundraisers

Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR)

Other Questions

Starting a Charity

What are FIA’s Principles and Standards of Fundraising Practice?

FIA’s Principles & Standards of Fundraising Practice are the professional fundraiser’s guide to ethical, accountable and transparent fundraising. The Principles and Standards have been developed with the help of industry experts and are a valuable and practical tool for both experienced fundraisers and those new to the profession.

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Where can I find information about how to set up a charity or fund, including how to apply for DGR status?

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) registers organisations as charities. Registration as a charity is voluntary, however organisations must be registered with the ACNC before they can receive any charity tax concessions from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The Australian Taxation Office’s nonprofit section has useful guides that can be downloaded for free, or call 1300 130 248.

There are over 700,000 nonprofit organisations in Australia. You may consider researching existing charities with similar objectives before starting your own charity. Starting a charity is costly and time consuming and your skills and expertise may be better used working closely with a charity of your choice. 

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Do I need a licence to fundraise?

Yes, both charities and professional fundraisers need a licence to fundraise. Fundraising licences are administrated by the state and territory government where you are planning to run your campaign. For example, if you are based in Victoria, but plan to run a campaign that will reach donors in New South Wales, you will need to apply for the relevant licences and permits in Victoria and NSW.

The only exception is the Northern Territory which does not have fundraising legislation. Please keep in mind you will still require a gaming licence if you would like to run a charitable gaming fundraising activity.

Charitable gaming activities such as raffles, bingo, Calcuttas and lotteries fall under state gaming legislation. In addition to holding a fundraising licence, you will have to apply for a gaming licence in the state you are operating in.

To find more information or to apply for a fundraising licence, you will need to contact the relevant state or territory office. Please refer to the government contact list under the Resources section of the FIA website.

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Fundraising Events

Do individuals (including volunteers), businesses or other organisations conducting a fundraising activity on behalf of a charity need to apply for a licence to fundraise or a letter of authority?

In all states except Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory, your charity is required to supply a letter of authority stating the start and end dates of the fundraising activity, your fundraising licence number for that State and other information as required by your State fundraising legislation.

If you are in Victoria, the supporters will have to apply for an additional licence to fundraise on your behalf. This includes commercial traders you engage to fundraise on your behalf such as a call centre, face to face fundraising supplier or an online fundraising company.

If the appeal is being run in Queensland you may need to apply for a licence. Please contact the Queensland Office of Fair Trading for more information.

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I would like to run a fundraising event. Where do I start?

FIA’s Standard of Events Fundraising Practice is a useful guide for fundraisers running events and was developed in close consultation with experts in event fundraising and relevant stakeholders.

FIA has some excellent resources available as well as a library resource centre.

The NSW government also has some great resources available on their events website.

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I am member of the public and would like to raise money for my charity. Do I need permission from a charity to fundraise on their behalf?

Yes. In all states of Australia, except Victoria, you will require a letter of authority from your charity to fundraise on their behalf. In Victoria you will have to apply for a fundraising licence, whether you are an individual or a business.

Your chosen charity will be able to support you in your fundraising efforts and assist you in complying with fundraising legislation, in particular the banking and reporting requirements, which can be quite complex.

A simpler and more cost effective option is to volunteer your time and participate in your charity’s existing fundraising programs. Contact your charity to see how you can help.

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What authority is required to raise money for a cause that is based outside of Australia?

The Standard of Overseas Aid Fundraising Practice is designed as a guide to assist fundraisers and organisations who are seeking to raise and disperse funds for causes outside of Australia. The Standard provides ethical and operational guidance on setting up an overseas aid fundraising activity, working with an overseas aid agency, and management and transfer of donations, to assist fundraisers in achieving best practice. Please refer to FIA’s Standard of Overseas Aid Fundraising Practice for more information.

To conduct an Overseas Aid Fundraising Activity, you will need to ensure you comply with requirements set out by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAID.

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Privacy and Information Disclosure

What are a charity’s obligations in handling and protecting personal information?

All charities must comply with the National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles which can be found on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s website

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What information does a charity have to disclose to donors or potential donors?

Under FIA’s Principles and Standards of Fundraising Practice, when soliciting donations, the charity must provide contact details such as the name of the charity, street address, website and telephone number. Donors should be informed of what the intended use of the donation is, the charity’s mission and an accurate description of the charity’s activities.

Upon request, a charity must supply the most recent annual report, constitution, and if relevant, details of the source from which the charity obtained the donor’s contact information, the person in the charity handling donor complaints and if the fundraiser soliciting the donation is an employee of the charity, an employee of a supplier of fundraising services or a volunteer.

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What can I do if I wish to stop receiving mail, email or phone calls from a charity?

Contact the charity involved and request you are removed from their database. Charities maintain internal do not contact lists and are more than happy to assist in tailoring their communications to their donors’ requirements.

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Remuneration of Fundraisers

Where can I find information about remuneration in the not-for-profit sector?

You may find the employment section of our website useful as to what rates are offered by other charities for similar roles.

Each year, Enterprise Care release a remuneration report for the nonprofit sector.

FIA Principles and Standards of Fundraising Practice prohibit the use of percentage-based compensation for salaries and wages.

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Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Status

Does my charity have DGR status?

A simple way to check whether your charity has DGR (deductible gift recipient) status is to search the ABN Lookup service on the Australian Government website.

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Is my gift tax deductible?

A gift is tax deductible only if it is given to a deductible gift recipient (DGR). For more information visit the Australian Tax Office website.

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Other Questions

How can I find a supplier or consultant to engage on behalf of my charity?

FIA maintains a list of suppliers and consultants under the industry links section of the FIA website.

Please note that the listings are a paid service, and inclusion on the list does not amount to endorsement by FIA.

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I have a complaint about a charity or fundraiser who is a member of FIA. What can I do?

All FIA members are signatories to and are bound by FIA’s code of ethics, the Principles and Standards of Fundraising Practice. If you have a complaint about professional misconduct, please contact the CEO of Fundraising Institute Australia and submit your complaint in writing. FIA’s Complaints Process, including the complaints form, is available here.

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Where can I find information about the cost of fundraising?

In 2004, FIA undertook research on key issues impacting on the legislation and regulation of fundraising. The report Key Issues in Fundraising found there were many variables in determining the cost of fundraising such as the size of the organisation, fundraising method, popularity of the cause, brand recognition and other factors. In addition to these variables, the study found there was no standardised definition of what was included in the cost of fundraising and due to the lack of a standardized national accounting system, this was impossible to determine. These variables and lack of a national accounting system mean the cost of fundraising is a flawed measure and a meaningless benchmark.

Other useful resources on the cost of fundraising:

  1. Bridgespan’s research on Nonprofit Overhead Costs
  2. Benchmarking in the public and nonprofit sectors by Patricia Keehley and Neil Abercrombie (ISBN 9780787998318) (FIA has copies in the library and bookshop or you can order it from any good bookshop).
  3. Accountability and Learning: Developing, monitoring and evaluation in the third sector by Charities Evaluation Services.
  4. Mandatory disclosure of costs of fundraising ratios: Does it achieve the regulators’ purposes by Dr Ted Flack.

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Does FIA have a list of grantmaking bodies in Australia?

FIA has prepared a list of funding opportunities in Australia. This list is not definitive and serves only as a guide for members.

Philanthropy Australia produces an annual directory of grantmaking bodies, the Australian Directory of Philanthropy, which can be purchased from their website.

Pathways Australia also maintains a list of charitable trusts and foundations, which can be purchased from their website.

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Where can I find information about giving and the not-for-profit sector in Australia?

The Queensland University Technology’s Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies has a wide range of research available online.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 8106.0 - Not-for-profit Organisations, Australia, 2006-07.

Giving Australia Summary 2005

The ‘Giving Australia’ project is an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, coordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) in collaboration with the Centre for Australian Community Organisations and Management (CACOM) at the University of Technology, Sydney, the Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (CPNS) at the Queensland University of Technology, Roy Morgan Research (RMR), McNair Ingenuity Research and the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA).

Useful Print Publications:

Global Civil Society: Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector by Lester M. Salamon, Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, S. Wojciech Sokolowski Published by Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, 1999 (ISBN 9781886333420).

Third Sector: The Contribution of Nonprofit and Cooperative Enterprise in Australiaby Mark Lyons. Published by Allen & Unwin, 2001 (ISBN 9781864487428).

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What restrictions are there in place for the promotion of goods as prizes in fundraising campaigns?

Consult the FIA Standard of Charitable Gaming Fundraising Practice (specifically section 6 ‘Prizes and prize winners’) as well as the relevant state legislation

You should also check with the manufacturer and/or supplier of the goods you intend to use as prizes. They may have specific promotional requirements in relation to their brand. An example of this is Apple, who have published guidelines for use of their brand, including images and logos.

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