Facebook page ordered to register or shut down

UPDATE: The founder of a page which gives clothing and blankets to the needy has been told he needs to register as a charity or face being shut down.

A spokesperson from the Office of Fair Trading said they had been in contact with the Toowoomba Helping Toowoomba Out group following a complaint.

They said they were inquiring whether the group was fund raising for a charitable or community purpose and looking to assist it in completing its legal obligations so it could continue to fund raise.

Page founder Chris Hancock said he was disappointed and shocked someone had complained.

Mr Hancock said his group was just doing it to help people and not for money.

GIFT OF GIVING: Toowoomba painter Chris Hancock has started a Facebook page for providing goods to needy people. Thursday June 30 , 2016.
GIFT OF GIVING: Toowoomba painter Chris Hancock has started a Facebook page for providing goods to needy people. Thursday June 30 , 2016. Nev Madsen

He said they were looking at staying unregistered but working in conjunction with several registered Toowoomba charities, in particular The Base.

"For now we've got a letter of authority [from The Base] stating that we can collect on their behalf," he said.

He said they were now getting donations state-wide.

The Office of Fair Trading said fund raisers needed to be registered as a charity or be approved to fund raise by a registered charity on its behalf in order to seek donations for a charitable or community purpose.

They said one-off charitable appeals needed approval from their office.

They encouraged groups to contact their office if they were unsure if their activity needed to be registered or approved.

10.30AM: The Office of Fair Trading has threatened to shut down a Toowoomba Facebook page over concerns the group is not a registered charity.

The office swooped on the Toowoomba page just hours after a complaint was made and threatened to shut it down.

Co-founder of Toowoomba Helping Toowoomba Out Chris Hancock said the response was disappointing given the group was just trying to help needy people.

The department has been contacted for comment.

EARLIER: Toowoomba people are banding together to help those in need through a Facebook page set up two days ago.

Mt Lofty painter Chris Hancock, 32, said it started when he posted on a public Facebook page telling people he wanted to give away old sheets, blankets and towels.

Mr Hancock said a lady with seven kids commented that she could use them, so he dropped them off on Tuesday night.

Will you give to charity this winter?

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He said the post went viral and by 11am Wednesday someone had set up a Facebook page for him.

The page is Toowoomba Helping Toowoomba Out.

"We are just local people wanting to help other local people during their lowest points," he said.

"Within 24 hours we've got 700 members, two bedrooms full of stuff and are ready for donations," he said.

He said some things went directly from the donor to those who needed it while others could be taken and stored.

 


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