Soliciting online donation without approval is illegal – MoHCA

Garnering funds or donation via social media, according to the notification, should be approved by a competent government agency

After Business Bhutan raised issue questioning the legitimacy of online donation campaigns, the Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs (MoHCA) has recently issued a notification stating that soliciting funds and donation via social media platforms without approval from a competent agency will be illegal.

That it has come to the notice of the ministry that many individuals or groups are soliciting donation for various purposes using social media platforms, the MoHCA’s notification states that the trend has increased considerably in recent times and is a matter of serious concern.

The MoHCA through the notification reminds the general public that soliciting funds or donation via social media or any other manner for any purpose is illegal, unless approved by a competent government agency.

The ministry, therefore, urges the general public to refrain from engaging in such practices.

“Any individual, organization and agency that solicits funds or donation without the explicit approval of a competent government agency shall be held accountable,”

According to officials from the Department of Law and Order under the MoHCA, in recent times, the number of individuals or groups soliciting donation through social media has increased considerably. While some cases may be genuine, many are said to be concocted stories to garner sympathy and donation. This is a matter of concern as an individual or groups could misuse the funds or donation collected for various purposes including for activities inimical to society.

“It could lead to fraudulent practices, deception of general public, and allegation for money laundering. Therefore, other than ones permitted under the existing laws such as CSO Act, Religious Organization Act, just to mention a few, rest are deemed illegal,” the officials said.

Officials say that solicitation of funds or donation for any cause like religious, educational, medical treatment, livelihood etc. through social media or any other media without prior approval from a competent government authority will also not be permitted. Individuals/groups/organizations soliciting donation or raising funds for a genuine good cause must seek approval from relevant government agencies for consideration.

“Though the fundraising campaign has been successful for those needy ones and to formalize genuine fundraising or donation drive and to garner transparency and accountability, the fund raised or donation obtained will have to be properly accounted for by the proponent to regularize it,” the officials added. 

According to them, before launching fund raising campaign in social media, the proponent must apply to relevant government agencies for approval. Accordingly, the cases can be reviewed for consideration. All request for fundraising or donation initiatives within the country will have to be applied to the MoHCA for approval.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu