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Regulators issue joint alert on working with third-party fundraisers

Regulators issue joint alert on working with third-party fundraisers

The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator have issued a joint alert to charities that fundraise from the public.

The alert reminds trustees about complying with their legal trustee duties when overseeing their charity’s fundraising, as set out in the in the Commission’s guidance Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties (CC20).

It has been issued because The Commission and the Fundraising Regulator say they have significant concerns about a number of cases where trustees have entered into arrangements with third party fundraisers that are not transparent and are detrimental to the charity and its supporters.

In the alert, the Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are warning charities to avoid entering into fundraising arrangements that include one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Arrangements with a third party fundraiser which bear the hallmarks of a professional fundraiser arrangement, but are structured to avoid the legal rules
  • Medium or long term contracts that have very limited termination or adjustment provisions
  • Arrangements in which the charity only benefits from the arrangement at the very end of the contract term, and where there is the possibility that the charity will not benefit at all
  • Arrangements where the fees received by, or payments made to third party fundraisers damage public trust and confidence in that charity

The Commission and the Fundraising Regulator have also issued advice reminding trustees of what they must do when working with a third party fundraiser.

David Holdsworth, chief operating officer at the Charity Commission, said:

“We are aware of and concerned about a growing number of cases where arrangements are in place that appear to be set up in ways that deliberately avoid the statutory regulations. These protections were put in place for the benefit of the public to ensure that fundraising is carried out in a way that is fair, open and transparent. These principles are ones we would reasonably expect any charity to agree with and try to meet in order to uphold the standards that the public, who give so generously to charity, expect.”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, welcome the alert from the two bodies, commenting:

“Working with fundraising agencies can be an excellent way for charities to reach supporters and raise vital funds allowing them to benefit from skills and resources they may not have ‘in house’. However, charities must always ensure that the values they care about are followed through in the fundraising done in their name”.

He added:

“It is also essential that anyone asking the public for charitable donations signs up to the Code of Fundraising Practice and the wider charity and direct marketing regulations. Members of the Institute of Fundraising all sign up to the Code of Fundraising Practice, and in August we published a new practical guide for charities on how best to partner effectively with fundraising agencies.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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