Stephen Cotterill: Fundraising Code must be fit for purpose

08 Sep 2023 In-depth

Scandals are never far from the front pages, so it is essential the Fundraising Code is fit for purpose.

By Halfpoint/Adobe

For those of us who have been around the sector for a fair few years, the recent report of poor door-to-door fundraising practice by an agency employed by household-name charities unearthed some unpleasant memories. The recollection of Olive Cooke’s death, the Etherington Review, the Presidents Club scandal et al sends shivers down the sector’s collective spine.

A recent article by WalesOnline involving alleged coercion, heavy-handed tactics and dishonesty by an agency conducting face-to-face fundraising is a stark reminder that scandals are cyclical and although things have been quiet of late, it only takes one high-profile case to undermine efforts to regain public trust. Even if your relationships with individual donors are strong, the wider public can be a more unforgiving audience.

This month, the Fundraising Regulator is launching a 12-week public consultation on the Code of Fundraising Practice as part of its 2022-24 review. The regulatory environment is constantly evolving with the proliferation of giving platforms and crowdfunding campaigns, as well as tweaks to General Data Protection Regulation. This is amid a return of face-to-face and street fundraising, which is often a source of public complaints.

In order not to fall foul of compliance issues, charities not only need to be abreast of any changes but also have an opportunity to help shape the guidance. The consultation period offers a chance for fundraisers to put forward expert insight and highlight what works and what doesn’t within the current Code. If you feel parts of it are unclear, ineffective or irrelevant, now is a good time to let your feelings be known. It is essential charities’ fundraising practices, and the Code that determines them, are fit for purpose – as the next scandal might be only be a few news cycles away.

@stevejcotterill is editor of Fundraising Magazine

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