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Charity Fundraising: Further Tighter Regulation on the Horizon

Charity Fundraising: Further Tighter Regulation on the Horizon

In our last newsletter we reported that following the media scrutiny of fundraising practices, the Fundraising Standards Board had published an interim report making eight recommendations designed to strengthen the Code of Fundraising Practice (“the Code”).

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has now required the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) to put into effect the recommendation relating to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). As before, the Code makes clear that telephone numbers must always be checked against the TPS before making any unsolicited fundraising calls and if the telephone number is registered with the TPS, such calls can only be made if specific consent has been given. However the statement that the fundraiser may make a judgment themselves if they feel they do not need to seek the donors’ further consent to receiving calls has been removed, along with the statement that supporters’ marketing preferences could be verified during a genuine administrative call.

The ICO has gone one further to say that fundraisers who call donors registered with TPS are in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and may face enforcement action as a result. Speaking at a recent telephone fundraising summit, Janet Jones and Ian Inman of the ICO told delegates that organisations who seriously breach these Regulations may, in the most serious of cases, face fines of up to £500,000.

The IoF has also been involved in co-ordinating representatives from 17 leading charities to write an open letter to the Sunday Times. The charities apologised for not living up to the high standards expected of them and jointly voiced their support for a new and independent regulator to more vigilantly investigate and punish any charities in breach of the fundraising rules. The charities went on to join the Fundraising Standards Board in giving evidence to Westminster’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee about the need for an independent regulator.

Finally, the Direct Marketing Association has published of a range of free training materials for telephone contact centre agents which gives those on the front line practical help and advice for dealing with the vulnerable. A number of leading charities have contributed to the publication. The new materials and guidelines are intended for use by any charity, fundraising agent or commercial organisation and can be downloaded here: http://www.dma.org.uk/article/white-paper-guidelines-for-call-centres-dealing-with-vulnerable-consumers and http://www.dma.org.uk/article/caring-for-the-vulnerable-training-materials

The Charity Commission will re-write its fundraising guidance for consultation in October.

For further information on fundraising law, policy and other matters for your charity or social enterprise please contact our charity lawyers on 01895 207809 or email charities@ibblaw.co.uk..