Charity fundraising: key regulatory changes on the horizon

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The Olive Cooke case has caused a large-scale review of charity fundraising. Charities can expect to see changes to both the level of scrutiny to which their fundraising will be subject, and the way in which these activities are monitored/regulated.

Fundraising is currently self-regulated (except for “lotteries” which in principle come within the ambit of the Gambling Act 2006), with guidance on best practice provided by The Institute of Fundraising. This could well change.

Sir Stuart Etherington (head of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations) was charged, in early July 2015, with heading up a review and evaluation of the current self-regulatory system. He will report on his findings by mid-September 2015.

Furthermore, the government has just announced that it will be amending the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill 2015-16 to “protect the vulnerable from aggressive fundraisers and rogue charities” (David Cameron). Essentially, all contracts between fundraisers, commercial participators and charities will need to contain provisions which protect the public from over-aggressive fundraising. The Charities Act 2011 will also be amended to require charities with an annual income of over £1m to include additional information on their fundraising methods in their annual report. This will include details of their approach to fundraising, what steps have been taken to protect vulnerable members of the public, what fundraising agencies they use and whether they (or their agencies) have received any complaints about their fundraising activities. The Bill was scheduled for Report stage in the House of Commons on 20 July 2015.

Charities should be aware of the possibility of significant changes to fundraising regulation in the near future so that steps can be taken as and when necessary to ensure compliance.

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