The reporting period (1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020) falls six months before and six months after the Coronavirus pandemic began.
The report highlights how the regulator responded by focusing its efforts on producing guidance in collaboration with other sector organisations to help fundraisers and the public fundraise and donate safely.
The Annual Report also shows how the nature of enquiries the regulator received changed over the period, as fundraisers adapted to the restrictions on social contact, and the volume of complaints received fluctuated across the year, reflecting times when public fundraising methods were paused.
The Annual Report sets out too the work that took place pre-pandemic, including the implementation of the new Code of Fundraising Practice; maturing of its complaints function, following the publication of the first external review of its casework; and the highest payment rate of the annual levy in the regulator’s history, with 97% of the total collected.
In addition, the Fundraising Regulator’s latest accounts provide detail on its income and expenditure. The accounts show that after four years of operation, the regulator’s financial position is sound with it achieving its optimum level of reserves of six months operating costs, and that charity levy payments in the year reached 97% of the amount invoiced. This is the highest collection rate to date, demonstrating the sector’s continued support of independent regulation.
More key stats from 2019-2020:
- Between March and August 2020, its online Coronavirus resources were viewed nearly 30,000 times
- The Fundraising Regulator received 1,143 enquiries. 45% from charities or their trustees, and 31% from members of the public
- The most common enquiry received across the year related to fundraising events (11%)
- In Q3, enquiries about digital fundraising methods accounted for 19% of all enquiries: a significant increase on the previous quarter (7%)
- In Q4 digital enquiries fell, replaced by an increase in enquiries about holding online lotteries, raffles and prize draws
- In 2019/20 the Regulator received 836 complaints, a 13% increase on the number received in the previous year. The most complained about methods of fundraising were charity bags, online fundraising and face-to-face fundraising
- The Regulator completed 21 investigations into complaints: a lower number than the previous in year, in part due to the pandemic
- It closed 96% of cases within four weeks of receipt, exceeding it target of 90%. However, while its target is to close 90% of investigations within 13 weeks, this year it closed just under half within this period
- It published 25 investigation summaries on its website, finding a breach of the code in 80% of these cases
- As of 31 August 2020, there were 4,289 registered with the Regulator (which includes the 1,877 levy payers). This is an increase of 19% on the previous year
- 2019-2020 saw a significant increase in small charity registrations; up 35% from 1,668 to 2,262
- The Regulator incurred expenses of £1.92m throughout the year and achieved a surplus of £470k, which has been taken to reserves in line with its policy. As a result, reserves have improved to approximately £1.16m (£693k in 2019) – the target level set by the board in 2016
The content of this report, as well as the regulator’s future plans, will be discussed in more detail at the Fundraising Regulator’s virtual Annual Event on 8 February 2021.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, said:
“This year our primary focus has, of course, been to help fundraising organisations meet the challenges of the pandemic through guidance and resources. We’ve also made it a priority to ensure the public know what good fundraising looks like.
“It was a year in which we saw true innovation and resilience as many organisations increased their use of digital fundraising methods and overhauled the way they interacted with donors. Collectively, the sector has responded with agility and willingness to evolve.
“As the Fundraising Regulator enters its fifth year of operation, I believe the sector has made significant strides forward. The evolution in fundraising practice we have seen in just five years is a credit to the progressive nature of the fundraising sector, and proves our regulatory model is working to raise standards.”
Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said:
“Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, our annual report demonstrates how the sector has continued to respond positively to our regulatory activity and maintain high standards of fundraising practice. Our achievements throughout the year, such as the launch of the new code and high rate of levy payment, represent our maturity as a regulator and the charity sector’s support of self-regulation.”
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