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The Governance Academy takes a look at the main recommendations in the report, "Regulating Fundraising for the Future". The report concludes that self regulation has failed.
You may want to familiarize yourself with the current arrangements for regulating fundraising. These are summarized in an earlier blog – “Who’s checking?” You can also read the full Regulating Fundraising for the Future report
It seems a shame that it is the actions of a few large national high profile charities who have engaged in aggressive fundraising techniques, especially in respect of vulnerable donors, which has resulted in a media feeding frenzy that has brought about this review. That said, the review concludes that the current regulatory procedures are not fit for purpose, which is in fact the heart of the matter.
In a nutshell, the main recommendations are to create a new regulator with an estimated cost of £2m (who do you think will pay?). This regulator would have stronger powers and sanctions. The Fundraising Standards Board would be closed down. A new Preference Service would be created in which individuals could register if they do not want to be contacted for fundraising purposes.
The review considers options to replace the current system and then recommends the way forward. The keystone to this recommendation may be a wake up call to trustees!: “Trustees are the first line of accountability for the charity’s fundraising activities and have the responsibility to ensure fundraising is carried out in compliance with the law and to high ethical standards”.
The second line of defence is a specialist fundraising regulator that has the power to intervene in the public interest. The third line of defence is that “the relevant statutory regulator acts as the backstop in cases that raise regulatory concerns on issues that fall within their remit and powers”. In the case of charities this will be the Charity Commission.
So, self regulation will go but it will not be replaced by statutory fundraising regulation per se. This middle way is known as “co-regulation”.
However you look at it there are tough times ahead but hopefully fewer people will suffer at the hands of aggressive fundraising. Indeed, this report has based its recommendations on the principle of balancing “the public’s right to be left alone and charities' right to ask”.
What will happen next? The ball is in the government’s hands. The Governance Academy will keep you updated.