The Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 was enacted to regulate public fundraising for charitable purposes in New South Wales. This Insight piece summarises what is covered by the Act and the requirements in order to fundraise for charitable purposes in New South Wales.

The Charitable Fundraising Act 1991 was enacted to regulate public fundraising for charitable purposes in New South Wales.

Below is a snapshot of what is covered by the Act and the requirements in order to fundraise for charitable purposes in New South Wales.

Authority for charitable fundraising

Unless you are otherwise exempt, you will need to apply for an authority to fundraise pursuant to the Act.


It is an offence to:

  1. “conduct” in a fundraising appeal unless you (or your organisation) are the holder of an authority that authorises you to conduct the appeal.
  2. “participate” in an appeal which the person knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, being conducted unlawfully.
  3. Conduct a fundraising appeal in connection with your business or trade or otherwise partly for your benefit unless it is conducted jointly with a person or organisation that holds an authority to fundraise (among other conditions).
  4. Not apply any funds raised pursuant to a charitable appeal in accordance with the objects or purpose represented at the time of conducting the appeal

What is considered a fundraising appeal?

If before or during the course of soliciting or receiving any money, property or other benefit, you represent that it is a for a “charitable purpose”.

What is considered a charitable purpose?

This includes any benevolent, philanthropic or patriotic purpose.

What falls within a fundraising appeal?

This is a broad and is not affected by whether the money, property or benefit is solicited or received:

  1. in person or by other means (such as by post, telephone or electronic means), or
  2. as a donation or otherwise (such as by participation in a lottery, art union or competition; by sponsorship in connection with a walkathon, telethon or other similar event; in connection with the supply of food, entertainment or other goods or services; or in connection with any other commercial undertaking).

What does not constitute a fundraising appeal?

The following acts are specifically excluded:

  1. Amounts required in good faith as the fee for renewal of membership of an organisation
  2. An appeal by an organisation to (or the receipt of money or a benefit) from members of the organisation,
  3. A property that is handed down by will or as a beneficiary or giving information that might lead to a property to be left as a will or a beneficiary
  4. An appeal conducted exclusively or predominantly among persons sharing a common employer or place of work by one of those persons (the benefits of that appeal go to a family member)
  5. An appeal to (or the receipt of money or a benefit from) any Commonwealth, State or local government authority
  6. Any genuine fee or charge for the provision of: (i) educational facilities or services, or (ii) child-minding services, or (iii) goods or services supplied through a supported employment service for people with disabilities, (iv) nursing or medical services, or (v) other care or welfare services.

What does it mean to “conduct” or “participate in” a fundraising appeal?

  1. A person conducts a fundraising appeal if the person organises the appeal, whether alone or with others, whether in person or by an agent or employee and whether on the person’s own behalf or as an officer or member of the governing body of an organisation.
  2. A person participates in a fundraising appeal if the person solicits or receives any money, property or other benefit in the course of the appeal, or assists in organising the appeal.
  3. A person does not participate in an appeal merely because the person gives any money or benefit in the course of the appeal.

Who is exempt under the Charitable fundraising Act?

  1. Religious bodies or organisations in respect of which a proclamation is in force under the Marriage Act 1961, among others.
  2. Certain Small fundraisers (being fundraising of not more than $15,000 gross in a financial year among other conditions).
  3. Universities and controlled entities (a person, group of persons or body of which a university, or the council, board or senate of any such university, has control within the meaning of Australian Accounting Standards.
  4. Local councils and trusts where a council is a trustee.

Planning to fundraise in New South Wales?

Please get in touch for a confidential discussion with the Birchgrove Legal NFP Team today on (02) 9018 1067. We can help advise on your eligibility to conduct charitable fundraising in New South Wales, or to assist you in applying for an authority to do so.

Birchgrove Legal is a boutique Sydney law firm that specialises in the not-for-practice sector. Its market-leading practice is at the cutting edge of innovative approaches to serving NFP sector organisations across the spectrum of entity types. Get in touch with one of our authors to discuss your needs further.

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