If you want to do charitable work or raise funds to help people living overseas, you should carefully consider your options to make sure that your aid is targeted to where it’s most needed.
What are your options?
As a starting point you will need to decide whether you can work with an existing charity or whether you need to set up your own. The option that is best for you will depend on factors such as:
- The purpose of the charity;
- The manner in which you want to assist people overseas;
- Your budget;
- How quickly you want to start making a difference; and
- Who you want to involve in the charity.
Working with an existing charity
It’s important to consider the range of existing charities and aid programs that are already operating in the region you are interested in supporting. You may be able to work constructively with, or ‘under the umbrella’ of, these entities.
An existing charity may be prepared to expand their services or work with you on a specific project, meaning that you can potentially still exercise some control over how the funds you raise or contribute are used.
You can formalise the arrangement by a written agreement so that the project, relationship and roles of each party are clearly defined. You may even be able to set up a ‘sub-fund‘ within the existing charity so that your fundraising efforts are only used for a certain purpose and quarantined from the charity’s general funds.
This option has the benefit of being low-cost and relatively quick and simple to establish, meaning that you can focus your time, effort and money toward your chosen program.
Establish your own Public Ancillary Fund
A Public Ancillary Fund is a special type of trust through which you can receive tax-deductible donations. The trust does not undertake any charitable work itself but rather acts as a ‘conduit’ to distribute funds to existing registered Australian charities.
This structure allows you to exercise more control over your fundraising activities and to be more flexible in how your funds are used. You may support one particular cause or project one year, and turn your focus to another project the next year. The cost of establishing this option is mid-range and requires a lot more input from you in terms of ongoing administration and reporting.
Establish your own Overseas Aid Fund
This is a particular type of charity that can receive tax-deductible donations from the public in Australia to undertake charitable work overseas.
The process to become registered as an Overseas Aid Fund is very lengthy (sometimes up to 2 years) and there are very strict criteria that the Fund must meet before it will be eligible.
The charity needs to demonstrate a track record of providing overseas aid, including strong local partnerships and a history of successful projects. These Funds require a high level of ongoing cost, administration and reporting.