People need to be aware of fundraising rules to not fall foul of law, expert says

School pupils fundraising on Facebook, animal welfare groups appealing online for donations for help treating sick strays or pleas to the public for help contributing to sudden medical expenses could all be considered illegal fundraising.

DUBAI // More awareness of the laws governing fund-raising is needed to prevent those who want to contribute to society landing in trouble, an expert says.

Pupils raising money on Facebook, animal welfare groups appealing for donations to treat strays, or pleas for help with medical expenses could all be illegal – and result in residents unwittingly breaking the law, said fund-raising and communications expert Alex Malouf.

“Other examples could include people running marathons for charity or supporting foreign organisations not registered here through online fund-raising sites,” he said.

Mr Malouf said the law was designed to ensure funds only went to licensed and credible charities, yet people could easily foul of it, despite having the best of intentions.

“Everyone, including the authorities, corporations, charities and the public want to contribute to society, to support good causes,” he said.

“They needs to know what is legal when it comes to fund-raising or promoting charities online.”

He said an awareness and engagement campaign should be welcomed.

“Let’s answer their questions, empower them and ensure they’re following the legislation,” he said.

“Many people I know in Dubai used to fundraise through online sites when undertaking a charity drive. This isn’t strictly legal. If you want to fundraise online, you need to do it through a registered charity.”

There are two governmental bodies in Dubai that oversee social responsibility initiatives – Iacad and the Community Development Authority, which regulates and provides licences to non-profit social clubs and associations that organise social, cultural, artistic or entertainment activities.

Abu Dhabi has its own guidelines.

“If a person or organisation wishes to raise funds or support a charity or initiative in Abu Dhabi, they need to follow the emirate’s fund-raising guidelines and work with charities registered in Abu Dhabi,” said Mr Malouf.

“The best advice is, if you don’t know – or if you are unsure – about licensing, ask the charity you’re dealing with.”

newsdesk@thenational.ae

Published: September 10, 2016 04:00 AM

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