Relief associations and fire departments are separate and distinct from each other, each with different rules regarding fundraising and the acceptance of donations. Relief associations should ensure that any fundraisers planned are advertised and managed correctly.
If a relief association’s bylaws permit it, the association may solicit donations or conduct fundraisers. Any fundraising expenses must be paid from the relief association’s general fund. If a relief association conducts fundraisers, the association should clearly identify itself as the entity conducting the solicitation or fundraiser and state the specific intended purpose for which funds are being raised. Relief associations are required to maintain control of their own funds, with accounts that are separate from city or town accounts.
If a relief association wishes to solicit donations, the association should explain clearly whether the donations are for the relief association or for the municipality (designated for the fire department). Donation checks should not be made out to the fire department. Donation checks should be made out to the relief association, or to the municipality with a designation for the fire department.
Cities and towns have no authority to hold such fundraisers. As part of a city’s or town’s government, a municipal fire department is likewise prohibited from fundraising, and does not have authority to accept donations. Any donations made to a municipal fire department are city or town funds, which can only be expended as permitted by law.
Additional information on this topic is available can be found on the Statement of Position entitled Fire Department and Volunteer Fire Relief Association Fundraisers and Donations.
Published last in the July 2018 Pension Newsletter