Fundraising Regulation

Following an initial consultation event on 9 September 2016, NICVA was tasked by the NI VCSE sector with running a full consultation on the future of voluntary fundraising regulation in NI.

As a starting point for a full consultation, NICVA established a NI Fundraising Regulation Working Group. This group has developed options for Northern Ireland and is seeking to consult the sector in order to make recommendations.

This work was triggered by the establishment of the Fundraising Regulator for charities in England and Wales in July 2016 and the development of a new system of voluntary fundraising regulation for charities in Scotland. Charities in NI and Scotland that operate across the UK come under the Fundraising Regulator as the lead regulator. In The Republic of Ireland fundraising is regulated by the Charity Regulatory Authority.

At its first meeting in November 2016 the Working Group took the decision to accept an offer from the Fundraising Regulator to act as the interim Fundraising Regulator for NI whilst a more detailed consultation on the way forward was carried out.  

We agreed that any system of voluntary fundraising regulation proposed must be:

  • Fit for purpose, i.e. meets the needs of both the public and charities in NI
  • Donor centric
  • Transparent, honest and open
  • Robust enough to manage risk
  • Cost effective
  • Clear, unambiguous and easy to understand for both the public and charities in NI
  • Easy to use for both the public and charities in NI
  • Proportionate to our size/capacity in NI
  • Promoting a ‘three lines of defence’ model for the public – in order to mirror the models in the rest of the UK.

The working group fully endorses self-regulation of fundraising practice and recommends that this be more actively supported and enhanced in Northern Ireland.

Self-regulation is the organisation taking responsibility for their own practice and pro-actively adhering to best practice, this is ultimately the responsibility of the board.  Like many other governance matters, board members may need help in understanding what regulations and good practice that they should be adhering to.  Helping the sector to improve their fundraising practice by giving them the practical tools to do this would greatly improve fundraising practice, and this is our first priority. There are advice notes and guidance available on the DIY committee guide website as well as from NICVA and IOF.

It is also worth noting that there is legislation covering different aspects of fundraising for example data protection, Charity Law and lottery legislation which charities and other not-for-profit organisations must comply with.  The lottery legislation which covers all types of raffles and draws needs to be updated, as well as the legislation covering door to door and street collections and it included provisions for this in the 2008 Charities Act. 

Whatever the agreed structure is in NI it would work closely with the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) and the Charity Commission NI (CCNI) with regards to issues falling under the data protection legislation and Charity legislation.