Melbourne businesswoman Belle Gibson, developer of the popular iPhone/iPad app ‘The Whole Pantry’, is facing investigation by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) following allegations that her company has been undertaking illegal fundraising activities.

Gibson promised purchasers of the app that a percentage of proceeds from app sales would be donated to Australian charities and claimed that up to $300,000 was donated last year. It has been alleged that these funds were never paid.

If the allegations prove true, Gibson and her company have breached and may face penalties under both the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic) and the Australian Consumer Law.

For fundraisers, this cautionary tale is a reminder to ensure that you are up-to-date and compliant with fundraising laws in Victoria.

Key points to remember are:

  • anyone wishing to conduct fundraising activities in Victoria is required to register with CAV unless an exemption applies;
  • it is an offence to conduct fundraising activities unless you are either registered or exempt;
  • you must clearly identify the intended beneficiaries of your fundraising activities when you apply to be registered;
  • CAV can impose conditions on your registration as a fundraiser in order to promote public confidence in fundraising;
  • you must notify CAV if there are any changes in the circumstances of your fundraising organisation within 7 or 28 days of the change (depending on the nature of the change);
  • in undertaking your fundraising activity, you must not make false, misleading or deceptive statements, including false statements about compliance with the Victorian fundraising laws; and
  • you must ensure that any money raised is used for the purpose for which it was raised.

If you require assistance in understanding your obligations as a fundraiser, please contact:

Melanie Twomey
Senior Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5225 5238
E: mtwomey@harwoodandrews.com.au

Ashleigh Wall
Senior Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8559
E: awall@harwoodandrews.com.au