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Register as a charity

Registering as a charity allows an organisation to conduct appeals for support for a charitable purpose on an ongoing basis in Queensland.

An appeal for support (usually a request for money or goods) can be made in many ways. They can be done in person, by phone, via advertising, through social media, by mail, and so on.

A charitable purpose is when you supply any of the following to a person in distress:

  • help
  • aid
  • relief
  • support (including money or other financial support)
  • care
  • housing
  • education
  • instruction.

A person may be in distress because of:

  • the death or disability of another they are dependent on
  • disease or sickness
  • age
  • physical or mental illness
  • poverty
  • unemployment
  • a natural disaster or other emergency.

Eligibility

To register a charity, you must:

  • have a constitution that sets out your charitable objectives and operating rules (if you have some objectives that are non-charitable, you need to apply to fundraise for a community purpose instead)
  • be an association of 3 or more people (you do not have to be an incorporated association)
  • have a ‘governing body’ that has control of the management of the association
  • have a clause in your constitution that states you are not-for-profit (unless your membership consists only of charities).

You must use the charity’s income and property to promote its objectives. You must not:

  • distribute it among members
  • pay dividends to members (unless the members are charities).

Who doesn’t need to register

These organisations may fundraise without registering as a charity:

  • recognised religious denominations
  • parents and citizens associations
  • hospital foundations.

Charitable fundraising appeals

Raising money, or receiving or soliciting benefits from the public for a charitable purpose or to support an organisation with a charitable purpose is called a charitable fundraising appeal.

If you are planning to start or hold a charitable fundraising appeal for a particular cause—for example, to help after a disaster event—consider partnering with an existing registered charity that is already authorised to undertake fundraising in Queensland. This is the fastest and easiest way to become legally ready to start promoting and collecting.

You may also consider a one-off charitable appeal.

We keep a public register that you can search online for free to research organisations that are allowed to fundraise in Queensland.

You can find out:

  • the name of the organisation
  • their registration number
  • the postcode of their registered address.

Once you have chosen a charity, talk to them to ensure they will direct the funds raised towards your cause and, if you both decide to proceed, to put arrangements in place.

If you don’t want to partner with an existing charity, you will need to seek approval from us at the Office of Fair Trading for your fundraising.

As part of this process it is important that you have considered:

  • how the fundraising appeal will be conducted—will it be a raffle, selling of goods or online fundraiser? Be aware there may be other government requirements involved (e.g. if you are conducting a raffle, you may need a permit from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation)
  • who the funds will be directed to—if there will be multiple beneficiaries, ensure you have a documented process for deciding who will be eligible
  • who will have access to the bank account where the funds will be deposited or kept—ensure there is tight control over access and how the funds are distributed. You must keep proper records of all funds received and distributed
  • what you will do if you raise more funds than are necessary—excess funds will need to be directed to another charitable purpose.

Lodgement

Download the registration form.

When submitting your form, attach:

  • a copy of your organisation’s constitution, certified as accurate by 2 members of the governing body
  • a copy of the resolution or minutes from the meeting where the members or the governing body decided to register as a charity, certified as accurate by 2 members of the governing body
  • a statement of your organisation’s financial affairs (if available, audited financial statements)
  • written approval from the central body (if your organisation is a branch or section of a larger organisation).

There is no fee to lodge your application.

Objections process

Before we can register your charity, you must see if anyone objects to it. Anyone can lodge an objection against the registration of an organisation as a charity.

Find out more about objections and notices for charity registrations.

Organisations that are not eligible to register as a charity can fundraise for a charitable or a community purpose by getting a sanction from us.

A community purpose is something that promotes the general welfare of the public.

Examples include:

  • constructing a building
  • maintaining a park
  • repairing a public recreation facility.