BEWARE of UNSCRUPULOUS FUNDRAISING COLLECTORS

January 24, 2014

ICAN financial counsellors are increasingly witnessing financial detriment caused by charity fundraising in Indigenous communities. Have you ever been approached for money at a shopping centre, in the street, at your house, on the phone or the Internet by fundraising collectors that have little concern of your financial situation?  Have the collectors been aggressive and/or persistent in their methods to the point of trying to intimidate or shame you into donating?  READ ON…Know your rights!

In Queensland, the Collections Act 1966 and Collections Act Regulations 2008 controls how charities conduct appeals or fundraising.  In Schedule 1 of the Regulations there are certain conditions that door-to-door and street collectors must comply with.  The Office of Fair Trading Queensland  (OFT) is the regulatory body regarding this area.

Firstly, the charity must either be registered or have a sanction obtained with the OFT.  To see the status of a charity go to either www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au or the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission website at www.acnc.gov.au.  The charity then needs to complete an application for authority to collect.

Some other conditions for door-to-door and street collections include:

·      A collector must have visible identification and produce this if requested.

·      A receipt must be issued unless a collecting box is used.

·      Receipts must be issued on the carbon copy or numbered butt principle.

·      A collector must not visit any house before 9.00am or after 5.00pm on any day.

·      A collector must not by words or conduct, unreasonably annoy any person approached during a collection.

·      A collector must not stay in, or at the door of, any place of residence or place of employment if asked to leave by any occupant of the place.

·      A collector must not intimidate any person so as to cause the person to make a donation or buy anything the person otherwise may not have made or bought.

REMEMBER the above conditions only apply to door-to-door and street collections. ICAN has assisted numerous clients in identifying this issue and stopping the direct debits, which at times are incurring overdrawing fees. Many clients believed they had only signed up for a one-off donation and did not realise that it was on a fortnightly/monthly basis.

So, if you are reading this, and have been approached in the past, believing it was only a one-off donation, check your bank account to see if the money is still being deducted. If so, and you want to stop it, contact the charity and your bank, or otherwise attend your local ICAN office for assistance. Once you believe it has been stopped, remember to keep checking your bank statement to make sure of this.

Charities do a wonderful job, but a person has a right to make that choice whether they can afford to donate or not without being intimidated or shamed into doing so especially if they cannot afford it at the time.  Remember you can say no. 

A safe way to donate is go to www.GiveNow.com.au and make a choice of which charity and how much you want to donate.  By this method, it also cuts the overheads and administrative fees so that more money actually goes towards the charity.

Most donations of over $2 are also tax deductible. To see if a charity is a ‘deductible gift recipient’ (DGR) check at  www.acnc.gov.au  ‘find a charity’ and then click on the ABN for the DGR status.

To complain about the actions of a collector, write to the concerned charity, Office of Fair Trading and/or the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission outlining the details of the incident.  This should include date, time, location, who was present, the name of the collector (if provided) and/or a description, the charity and any conversations that you can recall. Also be aware of charity scams, further details can be found by logging on to www.scamwatch.gov.au .

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With the vision of Empowering Indigenous Consumers, the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network Ltd (ICAN) provides consumer education, advocacy and financial counselling services.

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