On this page
- What is fundraising?
- Fundraising law reform
- Do you need a licence and in which states or territories?
- What are your fundraising requirements if your organisation is an ACNC-registered charity?
- What are the fundraising application processes and requirements in each state and territory?
- Other laws you should be aware of
- Auditing of fundraising accounts
What is fundraising?
Fundraising is an important source of income for many charities and not-for-profit organisations, but fundraising laws can be tricky to navigate.
There are different fundraising laws in each state and territory, so if you are fundraising in more than one state or territory, you will need to consider the laws in each of those places.
The resources on this page will help you work out whether your fundraising is covered by fundraising laws, and whether you need to get a licence or approval for your fundraising.
Fundraising is defined differently under the various regulatory regimes in each state and territory, and may be referred to by a different term. (For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, fundraising is referred to as 'charitable collections').
In general, the following types of activities are fundraising:
- requesting donations to help a person, cause or organisation (whether in person or online)
- selling merchandise or memberships where some or all of the profits will go towards helping a person, cause or organisation, or
- holding events to raise money for a person, cause or organisation
Fundraising law reform
Justice Connect’s campaign to #FixFundraising has long advocated for the following three things to happen:
- Single point for registration - if a charity is registered with the ACNC and is complying with its ACNC requirements, it should have ‘deemed authority’ to fundraise (and shouldn’t have to apply for an authority to fundraise in every state and territory)
- Single place of reporting - fundraising charities should only be required to report once a year, to one regulator (the ACNC)
- Single set of rules to help ensure ethical fundraising practice
In February 2023, Commonwealth, state and territory governments agreed to a set of nationally consistent fundraising principles to support ethical charitable fundraising practice. State and territory governments will each release a plan to implement these changes by July 2023. For more information, see our webpage on the National Fundraising Principles.
For information on authority (licence) to fundraise in each state and territory, see our resources below.
For information on charity reporting, see our webpage on reporting to the ACNC.
Do you need a licence and in which states or territories?
If you are fundraising locally (for example by holding trivia nights in your area), you only need to comply with the fundraising laws of the state or territory that you are in (and in certain circumstances, local council regulations).
If you are fundraising online, you will need to think about whether you are fundraising more broadly than the state or territory that you are based in. You should consider how your campaign will be promoted. If you will actively promote your campaign in several states or territories, then you will need to consider whether you need a licence, and what laws apply to your fundraising, in each of those states or territories.
Larger organisations sometimes run national campaigns. Where this is the case, the organisation will need to consider and comply with each state and territory's fundraising laws.
Guide to fundraising laws in Australia
Our guide is designed to help organisations that fundraise in multiple states and territories to navigate the different fundraising regimes across Australia. The guide sets out the various legal requirements that apply.
Guides to fundraising laws in each state or territory
Our state-based fundraising guides below are designed to help you comply with fundraising laws in each jurisdiction.
Each state-based fundraising guide covers:
- which activities are considered fundraising activities
- when your group will need to register to fundraise
- ongoing obligations for all fundraisers (whether required to be registered or not)
- other laws you need to consider when fundraising (such as lottery permits)
- when your group needs to consider fundraising laws and licensing requirements in other states
- issues to consider when fundraising online, and
- issues to consider when using third party fundraisers
What are your fundraising requirements if your organisation is an ACNC-registered charity?
Some states and territories don’t require ACNC-registered charities to apply for a fundraising licence. In these states and territories, ACNC registration itself is enough to allow a charity to fundraise, as long as any notification requirements are fulfilled. However, a fundraising licence is still required for registered charities in some jurisdictions.
Our fact sheet provides an overview of fundraising licence requirements for ACNC-registered charities in each state and territory.
What are the fundraising application processes and requirements in each state and territory?
Our fact sheet provides:
- an overview of the fundraising application process and requirements in each jurisdiction, and
- a checklist of documents required for fundraising applications in each jurisdiction
Other laws you should be aware of
There are a range of other laws that might be relevant to your fundraising.
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) sets out rules against misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct. If your organisation makes a representation that it will do something in particular with funds raised, then it should be careful to keep that promise.
For more information about the ACL, see our guide, 'The laws of advertising and your community organisation' on our advertising page.
Auditing of fundraising accounts
Each state and territory has its own rules relating to fundraising audits. The meaning of 'audit' and 'auditor' is different under each of these fundraising regimes.
Our fact sheet sets out the different definitions of 'auditor' in each state and territory. The fact sheet is designed to help organisations meet their reporting obligations when they engage in regulated fundraising activities.
The content on this webpage was last updated in February 2023 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.
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This is legal information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation.