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Responses to PACAC report on charity fundraising

Howard Lake | 25 January 2016 | News

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee today published its report following charity fundraising exposes at some charities and agencies in 2015.
The report, which was critical of those charities for some of their fundraising methods, their approach to data privacy of donors, and their attitude to vulnerable people, laid the blame for the problems at the feet of charity trustees. In particular, they were criticised for the lack of awareness or even interest in some fundraising methods and commercial partnerships.
The report has generated a number of responses from charities, fundraising sector organisations, and others.

The Institute of Fundraising

The Institute of Fundraising welcomed many of the report’s recommendations, in particular the Committee’s broad support for the new system to regulate charity fundraising. It noted their focus on its universal application, stronger sanctions and more effective regulation.
Given its focus on the role of trustees and governance it confirmed that it was already working in coordination with other sector bodies to produce and promote guidance to support trustees in developing the right fundraising strategy for their organisation. This would include “a proper focus on fundraising standards as well as on income generation”.
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said:

“The Select Committee’s report makes some helpful recommendations for ways to make sure that charity fundraising is carried out to the highest standards, particularly on the role of trustees and charity governance. The Institute of Fundraising and our members are committed to supporting and promoting the highest standards in fundraising and look forward to strengthening public trust working alongside the new Fundraising Regulator. “


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

While the Institute welcomed the the acknowledgement of the need for the new regulator and the ICO to work closely together, it rejected accusations that it had been slow to update data protection advice to its members. Lewis added:

“As soon as the institute was informed previous guidance from the ICO had been updated, the Institute took action to directly contact the ICO to clarify what was now expected of charities and then immediately updated the Code.”

Lewis has also blogged about the report – The time to reflect is over – now is the time to rebuild.

New Philanthropy Capital

Patrick Murray, Head of Policy and External Affairs at NPC, said:

‘The Committee is right that this goes beyond rules and regulations. A change in culture is needed. We have suggested that all charities apply a ‘Gran Test’ when it decides how to fundraise, and ask themselves whether they would be comfortable with someone they love being on the receiving end of some of the sharper fundraising practices used. Similar principles are employed in regulating other organisations who work with people who are vulnerable, and offer clear and understandable reassurance to the public”.


Alzheimer’s Society

Jeremy Hughes, CEO at Alzheimer’s Society, welcomed the publication of the Committee’s report and the recommendations of the Etherington Review to protect the vulnerable in society, including those with dementia. He said:

“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to leading the way in good practice and supporting the rest of the charity sector to do so. Our involvement with the new Commission for Donor Experience will place us at the heart of the sector’s commitment to making charitable giving a positive experience for everyone.
“Through our Trustee Advisory Group we will continue to keep our Board assured that the activities we undertake, and suppliers with whom we work, are beacons for best practice in the sector. Alzheimer’s Society has also created a telephone fundraising training package to ensure telephone fundraisers handle contact with individuals in a way that is sensitive to their individual needs in any charity”.

He was pleased to see that the work of The Prime Minister’s Champion Group on Dementia Friendly Communities was mentioned in the context of vulnerable people: the charity had worked closely with the group.

“As a fundraising charity, and a representative of the most vulnerable people in society, we cannot afford for the lessons of the past to go unheeded any longer.”


Fundraising Standards Board

The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), which last week published its report into the case of Olive Cooke and the wider issues of fundraising that were linked to it by some, has welcomed the Committee’s call for trustees to take greater responsibility for fundraising activities.
The FRSB believes that “a behavioural shift in the way that charities treat supporters is vital if the proposed reforms are to succeed in restoring trust amongst the giving public and that trustees and chief executives are responsible for driving that change”.


The BBC’s daily news and current affairs programme Victoria, hosted by Joanna Gosling, this morning featured interviews with Peter Lewis of the Institute of Fundraising, Stephen Dunmore, the new CEO of the new Fundraising Regulator, and the son of Samuel Rae, a vulnerable donor whose personal data was sold by a range of charities.
The programme makers had invited chief executives of several national charities to take part but none had agreed. To emphasise this, the programme featured an empty chair:

Vacant chair for charity CEO on BBC's Victoria programme

No charity CEO agreed to take part on the Victoria programme on the BBC. Image: BBC


Public Fundraising Association

Peter Hills-Jones, Chief Executive of the Public Fundraising Association (PFRA) said that the PACAC report’s recommendations “make clear that failure is simply not an option – we must learn  from the poor practice highlighted over the summer or face statutory intervention”.
He added:

“The PFRA is nonetheless pleased that the committee singled out its proactive approach to self-regulation, as demonstrated in our mystery shopping programme and our 100+ local site management agreements with councils. These initiatives would not have been possible without the support and commitment of our member charities and fundraising agencies.
“Close working with the sector will continue to be vital as the new co-regulatory structure evolves. We look forward to forming a productive partnership with the new fundraising regulator as it looks to translate the Committee’s recommendations into practice.”

Russell New

Mark Cummins, charities & education partner at Russell New, a firm of business, tax, and charity advisers, said:

“General fundraising tactics have been moving in a different direction for some time now and this comes partly as a  result of the recession of which many charities succumbed to. The charities that were left standing are all fighting for the same slice of the cake.
“Sadly, though, I think the transformation in fundraising tactics is down to it being more about raising funds and increasing the pot, rather than engaging with supporters and seeing them as long term donors who are genuinely interested in the charities. The smaller local charities are being tarnished with the same issues as the bigger ones whom are hitting the mainstream media.
“I think there is a general lack of understanding of the risks and rewards of fundraising by trustees, again money dictates success which is true to some extent, but how have the funds been raised? The role of the trustee has evolved greatly in recent years and there is now a clear need for the training of trustees on all aspects of fundraising and reputational risk.”


Hospice UK