As of November 1st, 2016, certain changes will take effect at betterplace.org. From that date onwards, the right to collect donations via betterplace.org will be restricted to those organizations that have been recognized as being charitable in nature by the German or Austrian tax and revenue authorities.
Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic. They explain what’s behind the change, what will happen to the affected projects, and which alternatives are available to you, the project sponsor.
- What exactly will change at betterplace.org?
- Who will be affected?
- What’s the reason for the change?
- Informations for project managers
What exactly will change at betterplace.org?
As of November 1st, 2016, we will stop accepting donations for projects that are not recognized as tax-privileged in Germany or Austria, i.e. projects that are not classified as gemeinnützig (charitable), mildtätig (beneficent) or kirchlich (church-related) by the tax and revenue authorities. On the other hand, any project recognized as being tax-privileged in Germany or Austria will not be affected in any way. The sponsors of such projects can continue to use betterplace.org in the same manner as before.
Who will be affected?
Will my project be affected?
The change only affects those care, aid and relief projects registered on betterplace.org that are not recognized as being charitable, beneficent or church-related by the German or Austrian tax and revenue authorities. This means that as of November 1st, 2016, all non-tax-privileged projects sponsored by private individuals (who do not have any associations, organizations etc. backing them), by foreign organizations (even those deemed “charitable” in their respective country) or by small-scale campaigns who have not been granted tax-exempt status will no longer be able to receive donations via betterplace.org. Please note that the only function affected will be the one serving fundraising purposes. If you are looking for people to volunteer their services, you will be able to create or continue such campaigns as before.
Will my fundraising event be affected?
Your donation campaign will only be affected if it is associated with a project that is not recognized as charitable in nature by the German or Austrian tax and revenue authorities. As of November 1st, 2016, we will cease accepting donations for such projects (all other projects will remain unaffected).
If you have already set up a donation campaign for a project that is not recognized as being charitable in nature, we will have to terminate it as of October 12th, 2016. The campaign will then be blocked from accepting any further donations. Notwithstanding this fact, you will be able to forward 100% of the funds raised by the campaign to the project of your choice. Please forward these funds by October 31st 2016
What’s the reason for the change?
This step has become necessary as a consequence of the German Zahlungsdiensteaufsichtsgesetz (ZAG, Payment Services Oversight Act). This Act, which regulates the activities of payment agents, was not yet on the books when betterplace.org was founded. Since then, the German Payment Services Oversight Act (ZAG) has become applicable in numerous areas, and in particular in internet commerce. As a result, betterplace.org would now have to adopt complex identification and account-settlement procedures in order to be able to continue allowing projects not recognized as being charitable, beneficent or church-related under Section 52 of the Abgabenordnung (AO, German Tax Code) to collect donations on our platform. This would be very expensive, however, and would unfortunately make it impossible for us to offer free-of-charge service for such projects. Yet that is the declared mission of betterplace.org: To make 100% of all collected donations available to the social sector while making the platform available for use at zero cost.
What is betterplace.org’s position on this?
We very much regret these changes, which we must now implement despite the intensive efforts we made in the past few months to find a workaround solution. It is precisely the types of projects currently affected, which include many outstanding grassroots initiatives, that have been our primary mission from the very inception of betterplace.org. Thus, we will continue to look for a way to restore our donation-collection services for projects that do not qualify as being charitable. We will keep you updated on our progress.
Informations for project managers
My project is exempt from corporation tax in Germany and betterplace.org has a copy of our current exemption notice. Should I keep reading?
No. You are not affected by these changes and can continue using betterplace.org for your online fundraising as before.
What is the final deadline for registering a non-tax-privileged project?
September 12th, 2016.
How long can my non-tax-privileged project continue to receive donations?
As of November 1st, 2016, any projects not recognized as tax-privileged will be blocked from receiving any further donations.
What is the deadline for requesting the funds collected by my non-tax-privileged project?
Please request the total donations made to your project by no later than December 15th, 2016.
What will happen to my donations?
Funds already credited to your project will of course remain available. You can request them at any time until December 15th, 2016, by selecting the corresponding function in the Administration section of your project profile page. Just as before, we will then forward the full amount to your project.
Any projects that do not request their collected donations by December 15th, 2016 will be cancelled by us in accordance with our General Terms & Conditions (Clause 7.5.3, paragraph 2).
In this case, the donations will be refunded to the respective donors, provided they can be located without unreasonable effort.
My organization’s profile page still shows a credit amount for donations. How can I get a hold of it?
Just like before, you will receive 100% of the funds collected for your projects. You can have these forwarded to any one of your projects by submitting a corresponding request by October 31st, 2016. Please log in and go to the Administration section of your organization profile to verify whether it still shows a credit amount. If you don’t have an active project in place on betterplace.org, then please set up a new project. Our Support Team will be glad to help you; just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have not yet collected the € 50 minimum. Can I still have the money paid out to me?
Yes, the minimum threshold will be waived as of November 1st, 2016.
I have collected more than the quarterly limit of € 2,500. Can I have the entire amount paid out to me?
Yes, the quarterly limit will be waived as of November 1st, 2016.
I’ve installed an integrated donation form on my homepage. What will happen to it?
Just like your project page on betterplace.org, your donation form will no longer be able to accept donations as of November 1st, 2016. Visitors will see the following message: “Unfortunately, donations cannot be accepted at this time.” Please be sure to take down the form from your homepage by November 1st, 2016.
Are there other platforms that I can still use to continue my fundraising?
Yes, there are various other service providers that can host your fundraising project, usually in return for a fee. We have compiled an overview of these alternative providers here.
Will my project continue to be visible?
Yes, your project will continue to be visible on betterplace.org. After all, your donors should be able to see whom they supported in the past! The affected projects will merely be marked “expired” as of November 1st, 2016, and will no longer be able to accept any new donations.
Should you move your project to another platform to keep soliciting donations for it from there, we are currently installing a function that will allow you to inform your donors accordingly. Once we place it online, you will find this new function in the Administration section of your project profile.
We are waiting for the official exemption notice from the tax and revenue authority. Can I submit this to you at a later time?
Yes. As soon as we receive it, we can flag your project as “charitable” in our system and you will then be able to resume your online fundraising via betterplace.org. Just keep in mind that making the adjustment may take a little time.
Will I be able to resume raising funds on betterplace.org at some later time?
We are currently reviewing alternative solutions that may allow us to accommodate projects on betterplace.org even if they are not officially recognized as tax-privileged. We will be in touch with you if and when we find a workable solution.
I won’t be able to fully complete my project by November 1st, 2016. What should I do?
In this case, you will have the option of using an alternative fundraising platform. We have selected a number of different alternatives that might be a good fit for your project. If you don’t want to use any of them, you will unfortunately have to break off your project. In this case, please feel free to contact our Support Team know.
I’m only looking for people willing to volunteer their services. Can I continue my solicitation?
Yes. Solicitations for donations of time and assistance will not be affected.
I still have unanswered questions. Whom should I contact?
If you have questions we have not addressed here, please email our Support Team at email@example.com.