Bushfire Fundraising Efforts

In a time of crisis, people band together. Australians are amazing at this – the spirit of mateship never being more strong. The community response in terms of bushfire fundraising to Australia’s recent traumatic events is evidence of this.

Many schools are interesting in raising funds to donate to the bushfire relief effort. For Parent Committees, there can be uncertainty surrounding what they are allowed and not allowed to do. 

I am pleased to explore this topic here today in the hope that it will clear a pathway for more generosity and community building out there!


Bushfire Fundraising – the Rules Broken Down by State

I got in touch with each peak body in every State to clarify the rules, which vary from State to State and also by type of school. Lucky for me and lucky for you, I had already composed a list of these organisations, including contact details. If you’re after a definitive and specific answer with respect to bushfire fundraising, get in touch with the body that represents your committee – the final word rests with them.

I didn’t get responses from everyone, but here is a general overview of what I found out…

ACT – State Schools

The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association responded with these answers to our questions:

Is our parent committee allowed to run a bushfire relief fundraiser and donate the proceeds to a charity appeal? 

Probably not – most P&C constitutions will specify that the purpose of the organisation is act for the benefit of your school itself, but check the exact wording of the ‘objects’ of your constitution to see if other charitable work fits. If you think it does fit, be sure to be very clear in your communications with your community that money will be going to another charity, not to the school.

Are there any other ways that our school community can raise funds? 

Student Councils often initiate fundraisers at schools which may not be limited to the organisations to whom they donate. Alternatively, staff themselves may initiate fundraising within a school community. P&C volunteers may be keen to assist these efforts. Again, being clear what the money is being raised for is crucial.

Victoria – State Schools

Parents Victoria responded with this information: 

Is our parent committee allowed to run a bushfire relief fundraiser and donate the proceeds to a charity appeal? 

For Victoria, this link provides information that schools may raise funds for charitable causes.  

Are there any other ways that our school community can raise funds? 

DET Victoria policy describes how Parent Clubs may organise / gain approval for suggested fundraisers. Click here and scroll down to “Fundraising” for parent clubs.  

Queensland – State Schools

P&Cs Queensland let us know the following:

Is our parent committee allowed to run a bushfire relief fundraiser and donate the proceeds to a charity appeal? 

The Accounting Manual states that a P&C can undertake fundraising on behalf of external charities, and/or raise funds for a specific charitable cause (e.g. Red Cross), but must be mindful that their main purpose is to facilitate the development and further improvement of the school (page 30).

Are there any other ways that our school community can raise funds, eg via their student councils? 

It is our understanding that student councils can also raise funds for a registered charity.

Catholic Schools

Advice received:

In general terms, parent organisations in Catholic Schools cannot raise funds in their own right for outside charities but the school itself can do so and parents can support this.

The parent associations can collect donations eg back packs, school supplies etc and send to a school in need.

Independent Schools

Our advice was that in the case of Independent Schools, these are all separate entities and businesses in their own right so this would be a decision for each individual school

For the rules specific to your type of school, seek advice from your parent committee peak body – the contact details are listed here.

Maximising value for bushfire fundraising efforts

There are ways to maximise the impact of your bushfire fundraising. Seek out organisations that offer to match your add to your contribution. For example, the Commonwealth Bank at the moment are offering to match donations to the Australian Red Cross dollar-for-dollar

I recently organised a combined community fundraiser for bushfire relief and I’ve written here with some tips on how to organise your own.

commbank bushfire appeal

For every dollar donated to the Australian Red Cross through our CommBank app or in branch, we’ll match it to help rebuild community facilities lost in the fires through Bushfire Recovery Grants. Each grant offers up to $50,000, enabling community organisations, schools, sporting clubs and fire brigades to revitalise their local communities as soon as possible. The fund is expected to exceed $10 million. Applications are now open.

CommBank Bushfire Support Website page

This article was written by Mandy Weidmann aka The Fundraising Whisperer. 

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