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The Fundraising Regulator reaches its second birthday - two years young (and many more?)

1 July 2018 | Applicable law: England and Wales

The summer months saw the second birthday of the Fundraising Regulator, which replaced the Fundraising Standards Board in 2016.

To mark the occasion we have prepared a brief review of recent developments in its work (including Withers' own coverage) and a glance into its possible future.

The Fundraising Regulator today

At the start of July the Fundraising Regulator welcomed a new chief executive, Gerald Oppenheim, replacing Stephen Dunmore who had held the role since it was set up.

Under the new chief executive's direction we note the Fundraising Regulator has continued to put its energies into collecting the ‘voluntary’ fundraising levy from charities who spend over £100,000 on fundraising a year.

Recent comment by its chair Lord Grade suggests that 105 charities meeting this threshold have failed to respond to requests for payment, while 26 have outright refused to pay.

This represents an improvement on figures released in February this year but clearly remains a cause for concern for the regulator.

What is received under the levy goes in parts towards funding the Code of Fundraising Practice, a crucial resource for charities and professional fundraisers. Though its guidance is not binding the Charity Commission has previously expressed its support for the Code and suggested that it will consider a charity’s Compliance with Code to inform its own investigations.

In February the Fundraising Regulator updated the Code to take account of the General Data Protection Regulations coming into force, which we covered. It has since made further updates in relation to fundraising complaints handling and has added rules specifically on digital fundraising platforms.

The Fundraising Regulator also worked closely together with the Charity Commission and produced a joint report on the Presidents Club, which we considered in more detail.

As it stands trustees of charities should ensure they stay up to date with fundraising regulation including the Fundraising Regulator and the Code; a point made in the Presidents club report and in the Charity Commission's CC20 guidance, which notes that it 'expects all charities that fundraise to fully comply with the Code'.

The Fundraising Regulator tomorrow?

The Fundraising Regulator has this month given the Code of Fundraising Practice a cosmetic overhaul and opened a consultation on its accessibility. Charities have until 16 November 2018 to respond and the Regulator is also holding events across the country to encourage charities who use the Code to provide their feedback.

However perhaps the Fundraising Regulator itself will also be overhauled in the near future. Recent comments made by Lord Grade suggest the Fundraising Regulator might be absorbed into the Charity Commission if the Commission’s proposals for a sector-wide levy to fund it materialise.

Lord Grade is due to step down at the end of the year and his replacement is currently being sought. Lord Grade has also promised the announcement of a new strategy for the Fundraising Regulator in the near future.

In addition, we note the intention expressed by DCMS earlier in the year to review the Fundraising Regulator’s operations, which may inform its new strategy.

With the Fundraising Regulator’s role under scrutiny, new proposals being raised for its funding and a new chair due in the new year, charities might expect the landscape for charity fundraising to change again soon. We would advise trustees to 'watch this space'.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.

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