The State Government has issued a warning to South Australian charities to become licensed or be shut down.
Minister for Business Services and Consumers Gail Gago said numerous complaints, as well as intelligence gathered by Consumer and Business Services officers, led to a recent operation targeting animal welfare organisations collecting charitable donations without licenses.
“Operation Charity Collections was focused on reassuring South Australians that the money they donate really does end up helping a charity.
“Charities are great for South Australia and we want them to continue helping our communities. But the message today is that we will remain vigilant in looking for the very rare charity that is not doing what it says it is.
“In a one-day blitz on 16 May, inspectors from Consumer and Business Services visited organisations and individuals that were soliciting donations as animal shelters.
“Unfortunately, the nine targeted agencies or individuals visited were unlicensed to collect donations.
“This is a serious issue, both for the consumer who does not really know where their money is going, and for the welfare and care of animals in an organisation with unknown funding sources,” Ms Gago said.
“Any organisation that provides welfare services for animals – or any other approved purpose under the Charities Act – and collects donations must be licensed.”
The CBS officers ordered the organisations and individuals to either obtain a licence or cease operations immediately.
“To date, three of the organisations have applied to be licensed; three have ceased soliciting donations; and two will receive $300 expiations for continuing to solicit donations. CBS is still following up with the ninth.
“Investigations are continuing and prosecutions could be commenced if unlicensed solicitations continue,” Ms Gago said.
“If anyone collects on behalf of a charity, they must have the proper authorisation from that charity,” Ms Gago warned.
“Most charities do the right thing, but there have been cases where people posing as bona fide charity collectors have duped members of the public.
“South Australians deserve to know when a collector is legitimate and when they’re not,” the Minister said.
South Australian consumers can verify whether a charity is licensed at www.charities.sa.gov.au, which lists licensed charities and their financial records.