The Government will accept all of the recommendations in the Etherington review of fundraising regulation published last week.
Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, announced this morning that the 93-page document, published 11 days ago, had been accepted in full by the Government. This means that:
• the Fundraising Standards Board will be closed
• a new regulator will be established. It is likely to be called the Fundraising Regulator, and will be funded by charities themselves
• the Code of Fundraising Practice will be transferred from the Institute of Fundraising to the new regulator
• a fundraising preference service will be established, to enable people to opt out from receiving any fundraising telephone calls or direct mail, or not to receive any in the first place.
Wilson said that “large charities could be forced to sign up to a new fundraising watchdog”. A large charity is expected to be defined as one that spends over £100,000 a year on public fundraising. He added that the new regulator “will require charities to have the explicit consent of all donors, past and present, before any data can be shared”.
He warned that “if large charities fail to appropriately safeguard their supporters in any way the government will have new powers to intervene and regulate charity fundraising”.
“… we need to rebuild people’s faith in the big charities. Those who give to charity should know their donation is going to further a worthy cause and this trust will never be abused.
“We are building a new regulatory structure to make sure the right safeguards exist to protect those people at risk of exploitation. This should help the charities to draw a line under previous bad practice and I hope we will see even more people making donations and giving their time to help others in the months and years ahead”.
The announcement was made one day before the Conservative Party annual conference begins. Both the Prime Minister David Cameron and Rob Wilson had thanked The Daily Mail in July for its role in highlighting some alleged bad practice by some fundraisers.
Regulating fundraising for the future
The report on Regulating fundraising for the future: trust in charities, confidence in fundraising regulation was published on 22 September 2015 after it took evidence from 21 July to 2 September. It was produced by a cross-party committee chaired by Sir Stuart Etherington, chair of NCVO.
Not surprisingly, Sir Stuart welcomed the Minister’s statement. He said:
“I’m pleased the government has accepted our recommendations, there is a clear need for a more visible and effective regulator with tough new powers. The public have to know where to report their concerns and have confidence that action will be taken in relation to wrong doing. This will inevitably mean big changes in relation to how charities raise funds from the public.
“I know that charities understand the necessity of restoring public trust and are aware that changes are required. I’ve agreed with the Minster that we should move quickly towards implementation and look forward to working with the bodies affected and others in the charity sector to work through the finer details.”
The Charity Commission also welcomed the government’s response. William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission, said:
“Sir Stuart’s review was an important step towards rebuilding public trust in charity fundraising and I welcome the Government’s endorsement of his recommendations.
“Charities must now step up to reform and strengthen self-regulation, and to show that they can and will put the public interest first. The Charity Commission will play its part to support the development of the new fundraising regulatory body”.
The Commission has published its own strategic statement on fundraising explaining its role and that of other organisations. It will also be consulting on a new version of its own guidance on fundraising shortly.
The government’s acceptance of the recommendations will now be followed by further consultations to determine the final detail of the new framework:
Detail of proposals so important. Looking forward to working with sector and affected bodies on implementing changes #fundraisingreview
— Stuart Etherington (@SEtherington) October 3, 2015
— Karl Wilding (@karlwilding) October 3, 2015
Meanwhile, the Minister pointed out that further efforts to tackle any future fundraising bad practice were underway in the form of amendments to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, currently in Parliament. This will require charity trustees of large charities “to be more accountable and transparent about their fundraising by reporting details in their annual reports, including whether agencies are used and how the public and vulnerable people are protected from undue pressure and poor practice”.
It will also require all charities to have more detail in contracts with fundraising agencies “including how the public and vulnerable people are to be protected from undue pressure and poor practices and how the charity will monitor the fundraising agency”.
In Can you spare a few pence for the regulator? the Adam Smith Institute suggests:
“instead of reaching for the quango toolbox, just fix whatever the problems are. There are enough laws and codes of practice to assist in that”.
“in ‘austerity Britain’ asking charities to fork out to fund such a [Fundraising Regulator] is surely not on. Charities already get criticism for not spending enough on their stated aims, whether that perception is justified or not”.
Matthew Sherrington tweeted:
A blanket Fundraising Preference Service will not 'strengthen charitable giving', just stop people being asked. https://t.co/NblBEgJ9VH
— Matthew Sherrington ? (@m_sherrington) October 3, 2015
and Jocelyn Kitsch added:
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