In February, the Fundraising Regulator updated its Code of Fundraising Practice (the 'Code') to reflect recommended practice for charities from 25 May 2018, when the General Data Protection Regulations will come into force.
The Fundraising Regulator is the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Code sets out both requirements under charity law and recommendations for best practice.
Whilst the Fundraising Regulator is a self-regulatory body, the Fundraising Regulator has agreed Memoranda of Understanding with both the Information Commissioner's Office and the Charity Commission and the three regulators will therefore share information and may consider a charity's compliance with the Code in coming to regulatory decisions. Therefore, all charities should have regard to the Code and be aware of its regular updates.
The Fundraising Regulator consulted with the sector in advance of publishing the revised Code. That consultation saw the draft revisions amended so that charities must 'keep up to date' with ICO guidance instead of '[having] regard' to it. This is a helpful reminder, with reference to the Fundraising Regulator's summary of its amendments, that charities can still 'read the latest guidance from the ICO, but ... chose to take a different approach which they were confident was legally compliant' in the circumstances.
However, taken together, the changes make it clear that if in doubt charities should refer directly to ICO guidance. Where the Fundraising Regulator proposed wording that differed from the ICO guidance in the consultation this has largely been brought back in line with the ICO approach for the final wording and the Code refers back directly to the ICO guidance in respect of some issues.
These changes to the Code helpfully distil some of the ICO's recent guidance into practical terms for charities. The Fundraising Regulator has also produced a number of accompanying documents which explain the rationale behind the changes to the Code and provide further guidance.
We would recommend all charities engaged in fundraising consider the Code and monitor the Fundraising Regulator's website for further changes to the Code as the government's Data Protection Bill is debated and passes through Parliament.