The Collections Act

The Collections Act regulates the manner in which associations may conduct appeals for public support, mainly the collection of moneys from the public in Queensland.

Each Australian jurisdiction (apart from the Northern Territory) has fundraising legislation and organisations operating outside Queensland may well have to register in those places as well before conducting fundraising activities. The Productivity Commission recommended in 2010 that the legislation be harmonised.

No person or association can make an “appeal for support” unless they either apply for a “sanction” (approval) under the Act or are exempted from the provisions of the Act (Section 10).

An “appeal for support” is defined in Section 5 of the Act and is very wide including  any invitation written or  oral to contribute to an organisation or cause including that at  any dance, concert, social, entertainment, bazaar, fair, fete, carnival, show, sport, or game.  The section’s main limitation is that it has to be made to the public. The public is defined as including any member of the public. It probably does not include members of the incorporated association or company limited by guarantee, so an appeal to the members of the incorporated association only may escape the provisions of the Act.

An appeal for support solely for the advancement of religion by or on behalf of a religious denomination is exempted from the provisions of the Act (Section 6(2)). However, this exemption does not extend to door-to-door appeals (section 14A).

A religious denomination is defined in Section 5 and is an organisation that has been recognized for the purposes of the Marriage Act 1961. This effectively limits the definition of “religious denomination” to the larger religious denominations, rather than smaller independent faith based organisations.

The Act provides different types of authorisation to fundraise depending on the purposes of the association.  The association may be registered as a “charity” or as an association whose purposes have been sanctioned as a “community purpose” under the Act.

Charities are divided into two classes: exempted and non-exempted charities. While the charity remains registered under the Act and as long as it abides by the Act any appeal for support can be made.

Sanctions for activities that seek public support can be granted to community purpose organisations. The definition of community purpose organisation is contained in Section 5 of the Act:

“Community purpose” means any 1 or more of the following purposes (other than any charitable purpose):

  1. any purpose which promotes or assists in promoting, or is devoted or directed to the promotion of, the general welfare of the public, at large or in a particular locality, including, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the construction, carrying out, provision, maintenance, or repair of buildings, works, parks, recreation grounds, or other places (or of amenities therein) for the purpose of use or enjoyment by members of the public;
  2. the objects of an association prescribed under a regulation for the provisions of this Act stated in the regulation;
  3. the objects of any association where such objects comprise both charitable and community purposes;
  4. any purpose which, pursuant to Subsection (2) of this Section the Minister determines to be a community purpose;
  5. a purpose declared under a regulation to be a community purpose for this Act or particular provisions of this Act;
  6. but does not include -
  7. the objects of an association declared under a regulation not to be a community association for this Act or particular provisions of this Act; and
  8. a purpose declared under a regulation not to be a community purpose for this Act or particular provisions for this Act.

Applications forms can be sourced from the Office of Fair Trading.

Organisations are required under the Act to obtain an assignment before conducting a street collection or door to door appeal.  Assignments are obtained from the Department. This allows the Department to ensure that homeowners and businesses are not unduly solicited by organisations by rationing the areas and dates whereby an organisation can undertake collections from door to door or in the street (Sections 15&16).

The more important conditions that apply to street collections and door to door appeals are contained in Regulation 19:

  • A written authority, signed by an authorising officer of the organisation, is to be issued to each collector, with a distinctive armlet or badge.
  • The written authority should be signed by the collector and must be produced on demand by a police officer, departmental inspector or any other person.
  • A record of the armlets or badges and the persons to whom they have been issued is to be kept by the organisation.
  • Every collector shall keep the written authority and armlet or badge in their possession and shall return them to an authorising officer on replacement, when the collection is completed or at any other time at the demand of an authorising officer.
  • The armlets or badges are to be worn prominently and are to be used only by the persons to whom they are issued.  They are not transferable.  Every collector should, wherever possible, sign his/her name on the armlet or badge.
  • The collector is to be supplied with tickets or receipts based on the carbon copy or numbered butt system.  She/he must issue a ticket or receipt to all persons giving money or articles to the organisation unless he is using a collection box (see below).
  • Collection boxes may be used instead of issuing tickets or receipts.  The seals on the collection boxes must not be broken by collectors.
  • Each collector must return the butts or receipt book issued to him/her (together with all money collected) or the collection box (with the seal unbroken) to an authorising officer –
  1. when the tickets supplied have all been issued or the receipt book has been exhausted or the collection box is full; or
  2. on demand from an authorising officer; or
  3. when he/she does not desire to act as a collector; or
  4. on completion of the collection.

Proper supervision must be exercised by the governing body of the organisation in connection with the issue of tickets or receipt books and accounting for money and articles collected and the issue and opening of collection boxes and accounting for their contents. 

The Collections Act and regulations are available on the Queensland legislation page.

Charitable Gaming

The Charitable and Non-Profit Gaming Act 1999 governs gaming activities for charitable and nonprofit associations in Queensland. The Act divides all gaming activities into four broad categories, depending on the game type and its gross proceeds. Different conditions of authorisation are attached to each category of game and licences are required for conducting category 3 games, special category 3 games, bingo centres and for printing lucky envelopes (section 36).

Category 1 games are any games with gross proceeds of less than $2,000, but exclude lucky envelopes or games used for the promotion of goods or services (section 14). This category of game may be conducted by an association so long as it has at least four members and is formed for a common purpose that is not likely to harm the integrity of general gaming (section 7) or an individual who ensures all proceeds of the game are returned to players via prizes (section 18). Examples of category 1 games are meat tray raffles, lucky dips, guessing games or Melbourne Cup sweeps. This is a common category for the gaming activities of incorporated associations in Queensland.

Category 2 games are any games with gross proceeds between $2,000 and $20,000, or for lucky envelopes, less than $5,000, and exclude games used for the promotion of goods or services (section 15). This category of game may only be conducted by an ‘eligible association’ which is an association that has been formed for a charitable, community, patriotic, educational, religious or sporting purpose, or is a parents and citizens association or registered political party (section 9 - 10).

Category 3 games are any games with gross proceeds of more than $20,000 but exclude bingo, lucky envelopes and any game used for the promotion of goods or services (section 16). This category of game must also be conducted by an ‘eligible association’ who holds a category 3 gaming license (section 20).

Category 4 games are any games conducted for the promotion of goods or services (sections 17 and 13), commonly known as trade promotions.

If the association estimates the gross proceeds of their game (for a single game or session) will exceed $20,000, a category 3 licence should be sought and will allow the association to conduct several games or sessions in accordance with the legislation and conditions of the licence. 

Application forms and other information about gaming is available at the Office of Gaming Regulations website.

If an association wishes to conduct gaming activities that may flow into other state jurisdictions, it will need to look into the legislative framework for gaming licences for that jurisdiction. Gaming schemes are commonly referred to as ‘lotteries’ in most states and territories, and in all jurisdictions there is legislation that prohibits certain types of lotteries without authorisation.

Associations should also be mindful of the potential overlap between fundraising and gaming legislation. In Queensland, section 13 of the Collections Act 1966 (‘the Collections Act’) provides that an appeal for support that consists only of the purpose of conducting a game under the Charitable and Non-Profit Gaming Act 1999 is taken to have been granted a sanction under Collections Act for that purpose (for more on the Collections Act see Chapter 16). Additionally, if the proceeds of an association’s fundraising or gaming activities are to be used for any political purpose, the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) will require the association to report its political expenditure to the Australian Electoral Commission if it amounts to $10,000 or more per year (indexed annually) and may require the association to disclose the identity and particulars of those who made the donations.

Other Acts that are applicable

Associations should also enquire with their local authority about any by-laws regulating collections.  An example is that in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane permission is required before persons can collect moneys from the public.  If the collection takes place on private property, for example in a large shopping complex, no permits need be obtained from the Police or local authority, but permission of the owner of the property should be obtained.

Contacts

Office of Fair Trading

Phone: 13 1304 or (international callers: +61 7 3405 0970)

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