Charity Commission
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Trustees must ensure fundraising reflects their charity’s values, says regulator

New guidance for charities trustees about fundraising from the public.

The Charity Commission (‘the commission’), the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has today released its new guidance for charities trustees about fundraising from the public. Trustees have a key role in overseeing their charity’s fundraising and ensuring it reflects their charity’s values. The guidance states:

Many charities need to ask the public for money. They rely on public generosity - an enduring feature of our society, but one that can never be taken for granted.

The new guidance is part of the commission’s response to some of the high profile problems identified about the fundraising practice by some charities and agencies they had employed over the past year.

Today’s publication comes after the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) and the Etherington Reportfound that trustees were not providing appropriate oversight of their charities’ fundraising practices. Trustees have ultimate responsibility for fundraising and must ensure their charity complies with the law and follows best practice.

The commission emphasises the need for boards to have effective oversight over fundraising and focus on donor care, and has designed the new guidance to ensure trustees are confident and informed enough to challenge fundraising practices where necessary and safeguard their charity’s reputation.

Whilst the advice is targeted at trustees and reiterates the commission’s commitment to promoting good governance, the principles are useful for anyone involved in fundraising, including commercial participators and donors. It should strengthen relationships and promote transparency and effective communication between boards and fundraising staff, and ensure donors know what standards to expect from charities and fundraisers.

William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission, said:

The commission has been impressed by the recent response of charities to the challenges of the last year. Charity is a vital part of our national life and it is essential, for the reputation of all, that trustees take seriously their duty to protect the reputation of their charity. This guidance will help them in that mission.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission said:

Fundraising and public generosity play a vital role in making the good work of charities possible, and getting fundraising right can be extremely rewarding and valuable for everyone involved. We recognise that fundraising is complex, and that some boards may need to skill up in order to make sure their organisations are getting it right and providing acceptable donor care.

Our new guidance - particularly the six principles - is here to help trustees do that, and feedback has told us that publishing this now provides clarity and certainty about what is expected of trustees as we enter a new regulatory framework. It is designed not just to be used to address negative fundraising activities, but also to make good ones better.

Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties (CC20) sets out 6 key principles to help trustees comply with their legal duties when overseeing their charity’s fundraising, including:

  • supervising fundraising, not simply delegating
  • protecting the charity’s reputation and with regard to its values when making decisions about fundraising
  • being transparent, including about any commercial relationships

Advice is also included on effective planning, legal compliance and how to follow best practice. The guidance was revised in line with views collected from a comprehensive 3 month consultation process that allowed the public to provide feedback on a draft version of the new guidance.

The new guidance is part of a wider shake-up of charity regulation which is seeing the Charity Commission get new powers under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 and the reformed system for self-regulation of fundraising with the upcoming launch of the new Fundraising Regulator. The commission is also encouraging trustees to use the new checklist to evaluate their charity’s performance against the legal requirements and good practice recommendations set out in the guidance. Shorter than the previous version, the guidance functions well online to ensure the information can be accessed rapidly and easily. It also signposts other sources of information about the wider legal rules that apply to fundraising such as rules on data handing and protection.

The full guidance can be found at GOV.UK. Two infographics and notes on the consultation process have also been published today.

Notes for editors

  1. The Charity Commissionis the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
  2. Search for charities on the online register.
  3. The public consultation on CC20 ran from 3 December 2015 to 11 February 2016.

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