Group activism requires campaign planning and funding as well as insurance. There are questions about corporate structures, liability, tax, and gift status.
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 Community 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 at www.ourcommunity.com.au, and click on the “insurance” tab in the Community Resources Section.
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. (For the Local Community Insurance Services’ contact details, see “Contacts”.)
Ansvar Insurance also offers public liability insurance to not-for-profit groups throughout Australia. For further information and contact details, go to the Community Insurance and Risk Management Centre on the Our Community website at www.ourcommunity.com.au (click on the “insurance” tab).