A bill to introduce a register of donations for associations and foundations in Belgium has been delayed for now. However, with it still on the agenda for the future, fundraising association Fundraisers Alliance Belgium is warning all parties involved to continue campaigning against its implementation.
The delay follows the seeking of amendments, initiated by Belgian MP Vanessa Matz, which meant the bill could not be passed in the most recent round of legislature, which took place in late April. It could however still be passed at a later date.
The bill aims to prevent and combat crimes including fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing and was approved by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives on 26 March.
However, its potential consequences for the country’s charities have raised alarm bells in the sector with Fundraisers Alliance Belgium voicing its objections in the press and to politicians, warning of the impact for charities and issuing advice on the matter.
If it goes ahead, the bill would require all associations and foundations to keep a register of incoming and outgoing donations from and to other countries by foreign associations that have a branch in Belgium. Fundraising organisations would be required to record the following information for each donation: date of receipt or dispatch, the name, first name and place of residence of the counterparty, or name, company number, legal form and address of the registered office, transaction details and details of the transaction.
Only small non-profit organisations or foundations that receive or send donations of less than 3,000 euros from abroad will be exempt.
Josefien D’Haene, Fundraisers Alliance Belgium spokesperson said:
“The bill’s impact on all fundraising charities and foundations would be immense. The bill violates the donor’s right to privacy, which would affect trust levels between charities and their supporters, and while the focus is on stopping terrorism, it could potentially result in any charities and donors that are critical of government policy also being targeted.
“In addition, as it stands, the bill would create an additional administrative burden, and may also deter people from helping charities through the additional security measures it would result in.”