Structure, finances and insurance
What structure works for your group?
Community campaigning is often a ‘corporate’ act (that is, an act undertaken by a group) that is undertaken over a long period of time.
It can pay to carefully think about how a group is structured as this can assist the group’s longevity and success in achieving its objectives.
A campaign group should consider:
- whether to seek charitable or deductible gift recipient status;
- whether it will be liable to pay income tax or the Goods and Services Tax;
- whether it should fundraise, and the regulations surrounding fundraising; and
- how to structure the group to provide protection against the civil liability of members.
For an introduction to these issues, see Chapter 6.6: Community organisations.
Public liability insurance for not-for-profit organisations
Insurance is usually one of the last things on the minds of most activists. However, failing to consider the need for insurance can be a big impediment to a campaign, because not having it may limit the sorts of activities that your organisation can undertake. For example, it may be necessary to have insurance to hold a function or rally at a local park.
For a useful introduction and overview of insurance and risk management issues for community organisations, visit the Community Insurance and Risk Management Centre on the Our Community website.
There are cost-effective ways that budget-conscious community groups can obtain insurance.
For example, a community group can align itself with a sympathetic organisation that already has insurance and can get that organisation to auspice the group’s activities. This organisation may be a specially created entity that offers a range of services to community groups (e.g. insurance, auditing, receiving and acquitting funding grants). Religious groups are a good example of organisations that are sometimes willing to auspice the activities of community groups.
Another cost-effective method is for a community group to obtain insurance in its own right through one of the special insurance schemes available to not-for-profit organisations.
For example, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) offers the not-for-profit sector broader eligibility criteria for insurance, to enable more not-for-profit groups to benefit from low-cost insurance and attractive terms and conditions. MAV, through its insurance broker, has negotiated the inclusion of Victorian not-for-profit groups within a national community insurance facility, known as Local Community Insurance Services. This can provide cover for the community group’s day-to-day activities as well as for festivals and events. Quotes can be obtained by submitting an online request.
Ansvar Insurance also offers public liability insurance to not-for-profit groups throughout Australia.