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Fundraising regulation: The buck now stops with trustees

By Mark Higgitt | July 12, 2016

The roles of senior managers and trustees in fundraising standards have moved squarely into the spotlight as the build-up to donorflex user Conference 2016 gathers pace.

Members of the donorflex team joined delegates from charities drawn from all four corners of the British Isles at IOF Convention 2016 and heard leading lights from the Fundraising Regulator, Charity Commission, and the Information Commissioner’s Office singing from the same hymn sheet.

We came away with a clear and simple message that will echo around September’s two-day DUC event – and, most importantly, the Preferences & Compliance Masterclass that opens proceedings:

  • The new era of regulation needs to happen in order to satisfy the need for public confidence in how fundraisers operate to be restored
  • Anxiety among some charities about what’s coming, and how they will have to rise to the challenge of adopting and adapting the way they manage their communications with supporters, is high
  • Although some of the rules governing the new era are still taking shape, the new requirements aren’t greatly different from the existing rules that govern the way that communications should be managed
  • Many trustees have yet to wake up to the fact that they now shoulder the legal responsibility for meeting their organisation’s statutory obligations


Knock on the door

The Fundraising Regulator’s Head of Policy, Gerald Oppenheim – who will figure highly on DUC 2016’s Masterclass panel on Wednesday, September 21 – gave a direct answer when the Fundraising Regulator panel was asked what a fundraising future shaped by the principle of opt-in, rather than opt-out, would look like – and what preparations charities should be making now.

"If you talk to the ICO, they would say that you should be getting evidence of consent now. Have consent and evidence for it," he said.

"The ICO would also say that you can’t assume that, just because someone has given you a donation, that is consent. Have a look at the ICO marketing."

The Fundraising Regulator’s interim Chief Officer, Stephen Dunmore, added: "If a charity isn’t doing what it should be doing and getting consent for direct marketing, then the Information Commissioner can (already) get you at any time. It’s a statutory requirement."

In short, as another speaker put it, charities that don’t meet their statutory obligations will be much more likely to hear a knock on the door from now on.

Ruth Ruderham, The Prince’s Trust’s Director of Fundraising, told delegates in the Getting your trustees on board with fundraising discussion that there had never been more need for fundraising departments to be represented with a seat on the board.

Fellow panel member Colin Kemp, of the Commission on the Donor Experience, underscored the reality of the direction in which the charity sector is being driven.

"The buck now stops with trustees," he warned.

Masterclass shaped for those who are responsible

It makes the Masterclass a timely part of the DUC 2016 agenda.

It has been shaped to deliver up-to-the-minute advice to senior managers with legal responsibility for their organisations’ compliance.

We suggest that chief executives and trustees who haven’t yet claimed their place speak with their organisation’s donorflex Liaison Manager to make that booking without delay. For more details, click here.

Food for thought....

In the wake of the IOF Convention, we’ve trawled the key sector websites to bring you the latest headlines on regulations:

Fundraising Regulator

At the time of writing, the FR board was due to meet on Wednesday, July 13, to agree on how the proposed Fundraising Preference Service will work. It will be the subject of another discussion paper published during the summer. Read more....

Institute of Fundraising

IOF Chief Executive Peter Lewis’s blog reflects that, when aspects of the IOF’s Code of Fundraising Practice were shown to be falling short of the standards expected by the general public, last year, more than 200 members volunteered their time to develop and strengthen the Code.

“Almost a year later, it’s a much-strengthened Code that we’re now passing to the new Fundraising Regulator for future stewardship. And we’re passing it over because we believe it’s the right thing to do." Read more....

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

A new independent panel comprising members of the public, donors, charities, fundraisers, OSCR and the Scottish Government, will be convened to develop a robust set of standards for all charities, setting a high bar for fundraising in Scotland. Read more....

Information Commissioner’s Office

The result of the EU Referendum means that the Government needs to consider the impact on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was on track to come into force in the UK on May 25, 2018.

"As Baroness Neville-Rolfe said at the Privacy, Laws and Business conference.... while the detailed future may be different from what was envisaged, the underlying reality on which policy is based has not changed all that much." Read more....

Charity Commission

Director of Policy and Communications Sarah Atkinson – who also sat on the IOF Convention’s Getting your trustees on board with fundraising session – blogs about the Charity Commission’s new research on public trust and confidence in charities.

"In a time of economic and political turbulence, charities undoubtedly have an important role to play in building community cohesion and serving, and speaking for, people in need,” she says. “The legitimacy of this role rests in part on the public’s confidence.

"Looking beneath the disappointing top-line figures, this report tells you a lot about the drivers of public trust. If you know what matters to the public, and you act on it decisively, you can regain trust – we’ve seen that in other sectors.” Read more....

Direct Marketing Association

The result of the EU referendum has created uncertainty for our industry, the DMA states.

“Politicians in the UK and across the EU are starting to come to terms with what the implications of Brexit might be, but clarity is something we will have to wait for.”

John Mitchison – the DMA’s Head of Preference Services, Compliance and Legal – is a member of the DUC 2016 Masterclass panel. Read more....