Election donors

Updated: 13 July 2022

What is an election donor?

A donor is a person or entity (other than a political entity or associated entity) that makes one or more donations totalling more than the disclosure threshold to:

  • a candidate, or
  • a member of a Senate group.

A person is taken to commence being a candidate in an election or by‑election 6 months before the earlier of:

  • the day the person announced they would be a candidate in the election or by‑election; or
  • the day they nominated as a candidate in the election or by‑election.

A Senate group commences as a group in an election on the day that is 6 months before the day the members of the group make a request under the Electoral Act for their names to be grouped in the ballot papers for the election.
A person or group ceases to be a candidate or group 30 days after the polling day in the election.

For information about annual donors see Annual donors disclosure information.

Who lodges the election return?

If the donor is an individual, he or she must lodge the election return. If the donor is an entity, the return should be lodged by a person with the authority to do so.

When is the election return due?

Donors to candidates or members of a Senate group must lodge an election return with the AEC before the end of 15 weeks after the polling day for the election.

What is required to be disclosed?

A donor must disclose the following information in the election return:

  • details of donations, including gifts-in-kind, made to a candidate totalling more than the disclosure threshold;
  • details of donation, including gifts-in-kind, made to a member of a Senate group totalling more than the disclosure threshold; and
  • details of donations received used wholly or partly to make the donations disclosed in the return.

If the total of gifts made to a candidate or Senate group exceeds the disclosure threshold, all gifts made to that candidate or Senate group, regardless of their value, must be disclosed.

NOTE: Under subsection 305A(2A) of the Electoral Act, two or more donations made by a person or entity to the same candidate or Senate group are taken to be one donation.

Financial Disclosure Guide for Election Donors

The Financial Disclosure Guide for Election Donors aims to assist donors to understand and meet their financial disclosure obligations under the funding and disclosure provisions of Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).

This guide provides information derived from the Electoral Act as well as from the experiences of the AEC in the administration of the Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme.

Lodging an election return

The election return can be lodged through the eReturns portal.

The AEC will issue eReturns credentials (username and password) to identified donors. However, a donor can create their own eReturns username and password.

For more information go to Lodge a financial disclosure return.

For important terms needed to complete election returns, explore Financial Disclosure FAQs.

Further information and examples can be found in the Financial Disclosure Guide for Election Donors - 2022 Federal Election.

Record keeping

Donors should have adequate financial recording systems and procedures to enable the return, which will be publicly available, to be properly completed. The Electoral Act makes the donor responsible for record keeping.

Relevant records must be kept for a minimum of 5 years following the end of the reporting period.

A person or entity who fails to comply with these requirements is subject to civil penalties.

Further information