Regulator proposes removing requirement for fundraisers to always be ‘polite’

06 Sep 2023 News

Fundraising Regulator logo

The Fundraising Regulator has suggested a revision to the rule that fundraisers must be polite to people at all times, as it could be a problem for fundraisers facing abuse during their work.

It today opened a consultation on its Code of Fundraising Practice, which sets the standards that apply to fundraising carried out by all charitable institutions and third-party fundraisers in the UK. 

The consultation reads: “The expectation to be polite ‘at all times’ could be a problem for fundraisers facing abuse or intimidation during their work. 

“The revised rule could include an expectation for fundraisers to behave ‘professionally’ at all times, rather than ‘be polite’. This adjustment could allow fundraisers to respond with appropriate assertiveness to inappropriate behaviour from potential donors and the public.”

There are a number of other proposed changes, spanning different areas of fundraising. For example, the Fundraising Regulator proposes amending a rule to allow organisations to consider reputational issues before agreeing to accept a legacy with terms regarding recognition. 

More broadly, the changes include moving towards a principles-based framework, expanding the code, amending existing rules and reviewing rules where the Fundraising Regulator is not the lead regulator.

‘The code is the bedrock of charitable fundraising’

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “The Code of Fundraising Practice is the bedrock of charitable fundraising so it’s vital it is accessible, up-to-date, and, crucially, provides clarity to charities, third-party fundraisers, and the general public.

“This marks the first major review of the code in five years so it reflects best practices in fundraising behaviour and wider trends in the UK.
“Launching this public consultation is a key part of the review process and we welcome all views, whether they choose to address every proposal or just one section. We look forward to the responses and applying them to the proposals.
“We are constantly working with the charitable sector to ensure the code mirrors the fundraising landscape of today and tomorrow, so the public has confidence and trust in charities, and that charitable fundraising thrives.”

Consultation closes on 1 December 2023

The regulator is inviting all those interested in charitable fundraising to share their views on proposed changes to the code, and respondents will be able to share their views on as many or as few of the proposals as they wish.

Following the conclusion of the consultation on 1 December 2023, the Fundraising Regulator will publish a summary of responses and a new draft Code of Fundraising Practice in the first half of 2024. 

This will be the subject of a final eight-week public engagement exercise before being finalised. The new code is then expected to go live in early 2025.

The review process began in October 2022 with a public call for information and is expected to be completed by early 2025. 

As part of the consultation process, the Fundraising Regulator is also hosting a series of events around the UK to engage with the sector, starting today at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Scottish Fundraising Conference. 

Subsequent events will also be held in Northern Ireland (September 14), Wales (September 20), and England (October 4), as well as an online event on 12 September.

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