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#57 Loose lips (and illegal practices) sink ships

Before I launch into this week’s post I need to tell you all to donate to UNICEF.

On Friday morning I had the honour of meeting a former child soldier named Ishmael Beah[1] who had come to Australia, in his role as a UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War, to speak about the horrors of war and the truly awe-inspiring work of UNICEF. It was a truly mind-blowing way to start the day. So please, stop reading for a moment and make a quick donation to UNICEF, and then come back here... I’ll be waiting.

Ok, thanks for that. Now, following the meeting with Ishmael, I had an in-depth chat with an old friend over an orange juice about the horrors of fundraising and the truly awe-inspiring work of face-to-facers in Australia.

He, like me, is fed up with the state of some parts of our industry and wants to make a more positive contribution to the future of our channel but keeps hitting brick walls in the shape of misinformation, ignorance and a lack of ethics.

Following this, in a lunch meeting with another fundraising friend on Friday I heard another call for higher standards, but this time for a pleasant change it was not in face-to-face. She has left her role because the behaviours of her co-workers were not in-line with the values of the cause.

We all know that elements of the media enjoying casting charities and fundraising teams as villains of the piece, but sometimes we need to take a good look at ourselves, and instead of challenging them on their stories, challenge our own actions and learn how to be better.

As painful as the PFRA accreditation was to complete (I understand that the completion record is four-days – please PM me if it took you longer!) at least it threw light into areas of our own practices that we need to improve on that we may not have been previously aware of.

I learned in a chat with the agency owner who holds the current accreditation completion record that they didn’t have a fraud policy, and why would they? They have never had any fraud in their organisation. On completing the accreditation, they had created the policy that has made the company a safer and stronger agency to work with.

Other sub-contractors are rumoured to be missing vital pieces of knowledge around HR and employment law that needs to be resolved immediately. Not paying superannuation, ignoring minimum wage regulations, unpaid training hours, potentially questionable phoenixing, refusal to attain site permits and encouraging their teams to fund raise without kit so the rangers won’t see them, or not holding valid workers comp are just a few of the holes that need plugging before your organisation sinks alongside these agencies.

Sub-contractors and agencies, if you are unsure of your legal responsibilities to your staff, clients or ATO you need to speak with the Labour Standards Centre of Excellence and a tax lawyer immediately otherwise you may find that you will need to fire-off the emergency flares in the very near future.

Charities, I’ve said this a few times in the past few months, get your fundraising administration ship-shape and proper by understanding your supply chain. Ask hard questions and don’t stop until the answers are sufficient and evidenced. We have the results of an important landmark report that may name and shame complicit parties in the very near future so please be prepared to take hits if your organisation has not been up to the standards required.


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