Commissioner's Blog: Make sure your donations go to legitimate charities
Western Australians are well known for their generosity but donors need to ensure that they are dealing with a licensed organisation to ensure their money reaches the intended recipients.
Always ask for identification from door-to-door charity collectors and, if you do donate to them, get a receipt. Times for door-to-door collections for a charitable purpose are between 9am and 6pm Monday to Saturday. Generally no collections are allowed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Any organisation or club collecting money or goods from the public for charitable purposes needs to be licensed under the Charitable Collections Act, which is administered by Consumer Protection.
Well-meaning community members trying to raise money for others can end up inadvertently doing the wrong thing because they are unaware of the need to get a licence or to ask an established charity to work under their licence and supervision.
There is no fee required to obtain a licence and applications are reviewed by the Charitable Collections Advisory Committee. This committee consists of five independent members appointed by the Governor of Western Australia, it meets monthly to consider new applications or make recommendations to the Minister about charity licensing matters.
As a condition of holding a licence, the charity has to lodge financial statements to show money is being spent as it should be, and that only reasonable operating costs are deducted. Making charities accountable in this way also helps to protect them from criticism about funds not being used appropriately.
However, it’s important to be aware that organisations collecting and receiving money from the public for non-charitable purposes do not need a licence. This includes social and sporting clubs, schools or kindergartens, which raise funds for their own use.
Tip for donors:
- Haven’t heard of a charity before? Check WA’s licensed charities register at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au before donating.
- Ask face-to-face collectors for proof of identity and permission to collect, such as a street collection permit or authorisation letter from a licensed charity.
- Report unlicensed charity collections to Consumer Protection or complain to the relevant crowd funding website if you think a campaign is a scam.
Tips for collectors:
- To run a one-off, short-term fundraiser, approach an existing licensed charity, such as a Rotary Club, to ask to collect under their authority.
- For crowd funding campaigns we recommend Everyday Hero, which connects the fundraising campaign to established charities.
- Charitable organisations wishing to authorise fundraising activities under their charity licence should download the guidance pack from our website.