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Fundraising legislation still needs refining – act now!

The Ministry of the Interior is preparing a new fundraising legislation. This is a remarkable reformation. Statements for the bill are collected until 14.3. The current plan is that the parliament will discuss the law proposal in the fall of 2018. The needs for fundraising have become more complex and changes in the operational environment (e.g. technological developments) have created a demand for the renewal of the fundraising legislation. Problems for fundraising have been extensive bureaucracy, slowness of the system, the temporary (fixed-term) nature of fundraising permits, and the requirement for a new permit if the target of fundraising changes. The new proposal would make fundraising permits open-ended and the application for a permit easier. Also, a notification system would be applied for small fundraisers. In practice, this means being able to collect a maximum amount of 10 000€ twice a year.

Even though the fundraising legislation will be alleviated, it would be good to make even bigger strides to lift the restrictions on fundraising. Particularly, when considering how fundraising is organized in our neighboring countries. Sweden, Norway, and Great Britain do not have any legislation for organizing fundraisers. Denmark has no restrictions to what you can collect money for. Germany has laws in three states out of 16.

Internationally, matters relating to fundraising are usually controlled with notification systems, self-monitoring, and volunteer-based governmental bodies. The most fundamental difference between the fundraising systems in Finland and the reference countries selected for this comparison, is that the laws in most of the reference countries do not limit who can collect money and for what purpose. If fundraising was not controlled at all – as mostly is the custom in the reference countries – it would, however, cause problems in the Finnish system.

The dangers in moving to an uncontrolled system include the uncertainties of the transition phase, such as the possible increase in misuse/abuse situations. Revoking the permit system and moving to self-monitoring would enable fundraisers carried out by both private and public sectors. These changes might constitute a problem for the functioning of the third sector.

Even though right now moving to a mere notification system doesn’t seem possible or likely, I believe that it will happen eventually. A notification system would be easy, fast, and cost-effective. In addition, it would especially serve small and informal operators. Although, at the moment moving to a mere notification system doesn’t seem possible or likely, I believe that it will happen eventually. A notification system would be easy, fast, and cost-effective. In addition, it would especially serve small and informal operators.

The small fundraisers that would now be included in the notification system would mean collections, in which the maximum amount collected is 10 000€ and the duration of the fundraiser is no longer than three months. The same person could be, at most, involved in two small fundraisers per year. A statement of the account would have to be made within two months of the fundraiser ending.

The new bill states, that if a small fundraiser is organized by an unregistered group, it must include at least three permanent residents of Finland. These residents must be of legal age. The requirement of legal age is peculiar. It would be justifiable for unregistered groups to utilize the same age limits that are legally used for founding an association. According to the association law, three people over the age of 15 can found an association. In addition, the association must have a chairperson, who is at least 18 years old.

One should also realize, that the criteria of being a permanent resident of Finland can be problematic in some situations. What if, for example, paperless immigrants in accommodation centers want to organize a fundraiser? Or if workers, who are residing in Finland temporarily, want to start a fundraiser for a good cause? Could it be enough, if just one of the members of the group was a permanent resident in Finland, instead of three?

Generally, the bill seems to be a good compromise, even though it still needs some fine tuning, and the pressure to move towards more unrestricted fundraising opportunities is already here. Still, with the new legislation, the burden of regulation would get lighter for the third sector; this would translate into smaller administrative costs.

The fees collected from fundraising permit applications and notifications, as well as the yearly fees of permanent fundraising permit holders, would be used to cover the cost of processing the applications and notifications and checking the yearly statements and accounts. Personally, however, I think it would be important that there were no fees associated with fundraising. Could fundraising legislation follow the same principles as demonstrations: A notification to the police is required, but police can intervene only in special cases and all this should be free of cost.

Leo Stranius

Executive Director, Kansalaisareena


P.S. What do you think? Give feedback at leo.stranius(at) The statements must be ready by 14.3.2018.


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Translation: Satu Puolitaival

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