Charity shops given strict rules in bid to prevent illegal fund-raising

Charity shops and NGOs will be subject to stringent regulations on fundraising, including planning certification, disability access, and police conduct certificates

Charity shops will have to submit extensive documentation before receiving an operation license, new guidelines from the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations show.

The certification documents will be issued to administrators, employees and volunteers operating the shop, so that they will be officially recognised by the public.

Among the documentation to be provided are OHSA certifications, list of donors, genre of items sold, and a police conduct certificate for all administrators involved in the operation of the shop.

Other documentation includes: planning authority certification, access for persons with a disability, previous licences, a list of administrators, certificate of enrolment, contract of premises, employment contracts and ID cards of all volunteers and employees, and any tax or VAT exemption grants.

If a charity shop is only operational for 20 days or less, it is considered a temporary charity shop, with a dedicated permit to be issued by the Commissioner. 

Subsidiary legislation governing public collection specifies that voluntary organisations must be enrolled with the Commissioner. In the event that an organisation is not enrolled with the Commissioner, he may issue a temporary permit if he considers that the collection is for a social cause.

The legislation further defines different types of public collections, which includes street collections, collections made by envelopes, collections by containers and collections through social media, such as crowd funding.

Activities such as sports marathons, which are held by individuals on behalf of a voluntary organisation, must be registered for by the organisation.

Where public collections are planned on a regular basis, the organisation must notify the Commissioner by submitting an application including all required information. Once the permit for such an application is issued by the Commissioner, it remains valid for six months.

Public collectors will be given sealed containers and tags for collection, and within one month of the termination of the collection, the money collected shall be counted in the presence of an OCVO representative and a warranted professional person.