The generosity of Australians has been affected, with over $500,000 in unclaimed donations being seized by the government. Now charities are losing big, just before Christmas time.
Under state and federal law, accounts can be taken if they lay dormant for an extended period of time. Unfortunately for charities such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, this means major donations may never reach them.
Whilst there is no evidence of illegal practice or malicious intent, it appears that third party fundraisers took the donations without finalising payment. As a result, the Salvation Army alone has missed out on $100,000.
“Folks in the community who wanted to raise money for the Salvation Army opened an account, for example, to put those funds in and possibly never saw the process right through”, explained Salvation Army spokesman Bruce Harmer.
Many people are calling for a change in legislation, to prevent governments from seizing charitable donations. It has been suggested the onus should be on third-party fundraisers (such as schools and community groups) to ensure donations reach the appropriate charities.
The Salvation Army is now working with lawyers to recoup the funds it has lost. Prominent Australians such as philanthropist Dick Smith though, don’t like their chances.
“I have a feeling that the money that’s gone to the government is probably going to stay there”, Dick Smith commented. “But let’s hope that any future money goes (to charities)… They’re not getting as much money as they should.”
Do you believe the government should be allowed to seize charitable donations? Should $500 000 be returned to charities such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross?