Resolving complaints with charity collectors
Conduct of collectors
The reputation of a charitable organisation can impact its ability to fundraise and collectors need to be respectful in their dealings with the public. Any information provided about the nature of the organisation or how donations will be used must be true and correct.
If there are any concerns about the conduct of a collector or the information they’ve provided to you as a donor, it is recommended that you raise these issues directly with the charitable organisation. They should have procedures in place for resolving complaints from the public and take immediate action to address any concerns about the behaviour of their collectors.
Online crowd fundraising campaigns
Crowd fundraising using online websites has become a common way of raising money. There are risks associated with donating to online campaigns as they are often set up by individuals as opposed to established charities and there can be less transparency and oversight regarding how the donations are used.
If you have reason to believe that the information provided about an online crowd fundraising campaign is false or misleading, it is suggested that you report the campaign to the host website in the first instance. Where there is evidence to support that a campaign is fraudulent or misleading information has been provided the host website will have authority to shut down the campaign.
Lodging a complaint with Consumer Protection
A complaint may be lodged with Consumer Protection where it appears that a charitable collection is being undertaken without a licence or the requirements of the Charitable Collections Act 1946 (the Act) have not been met.
It is important to note that Consumer Protection cannot investigate allegations of fraud or theft by a collector and these matters should be discussed with the police.
If you choose to lodge a complaint you will need to submit a formal written complaint with the details of the collector and copies of any documents to support your claims. A complaint form is available for your convenience.
Supporting information can include specific details of the fundraising activities including dates, names of people involved and copies of promotional flyers and correspondence.
Consumer Protection will assess whether the complaint falls within the terms of the Act and consider whether there is sufficient information and supporting documents to investigate further. Where a breach of the Act is identified, Consumer Protection will determine what action to take based on its enforcement and prosecution policy which takes the public interest into account.
Possible actions include education, warning or infringement notices however, unlicensed collectors will often be encouraged to become licensed or work under the authority of an existing licence holder.
Terminally ill beneficiaries, funeral funds, repatriation and bereavement assistance
Due to the personal and sensitive nature of a collection to provide financial assistance for a terminally ill beneficiary or the repatriation or burial of a deceased person(s), Consumer Protection has taken a position that it is not in the public interest to pursue the collector for a licence under the Act, unless there is a bona fide complaint that the funds have not been used for the stated collection purpose.