What do the Fundraising Regulator and the Code of Fundraising Practice really mean for you?

12 Sep 2017 Lynn Kennedy    Last updated: 16 Sep 2017

Fundraising in the VCSE sector in NI now falls under the remit of the Fundraising Regulator and its Code of Fundraising Practice. This article looks at what this means for your organisation.
NI Fundraising Regulation

What is the Fundraising Regulator?

The Fundraising Regulator is the independent regulator of charitable fundraising. It was set up following a cross-party review of fundraising self-regulation to strengthen the system of charity regulation and restore public trust in fundraising after the media furore of 2015 and research showing that public trust in charities was at an all-time low.

Does it apply to your organisation?

In 2017 the NI voluntary sector, after a 9-month consultation exercise, chose to be governed by the existing Fundraising Regulator rather than set up its own, home-grown fundraising regulation system. 

The Fundraising regulator therefore now regulates all fundraising by or on behalf of* charitable, philanthropic and benevolent organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including:

  • Charities registered with the Charity Commission
  • Exempt Charities
  • Other organisations with entirely or predominantly charitable, philanthropic and benevolent objectives, and open membership (if there are members), not-for-profit structure and an acceptable dissolution clause.

What does it actually do?

It role is to:

  • Set and promote the Code of Fundraising Practice
  • Investigate cases where fundraising practices have led to significant public concern.
  • Adjudicate complaints from the public about fundraising practice, ONLY where these can’t be resolved by the charities themselves. 
  • Operate a fundraising preference service to enable individuals to manage their contact with charities.
  • Recommend best practice guidance and take proportionate remedial action if they judge that poor fundraising practice has taken place.

Is there a cost for your organisation?

The Fundraising Regulator is funded through a voluntary levy on charities SPENDING £100,000 or more each year on fundraising.   

The number of charities in Norther Ireland is likely to be very low in comparison to the 2000 charities liable to pay the levy in England and Wales: current rough estimates are that there are only around 20 charities in NI which are likely to have to pay any levy.

However, the Fundraising Regulator also invites charities spending less than £100,000 a year on fundraising to register with it – for an annual fee of £50.

This allows organisations to publicly demonstrate their commitment to ethical fundraising.

Registration will also become available to commercial fundraising businesses, Community Interest Companies and non-registered charities.

What is the Code of Fundraising Practice?

The Code of Fundraising Practice and its associated Rulebooks for Street and Door Fundraising outline the standards expected of all charitable fundraising organisations across the UK. The standards were developed by the fundraising community through the work of the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) and Public Fundraising Association (PFRA).

The Code and the rule books were formally transferred from the IoF to the Fundraising Regulator at its launch on 7th July 2016. Recommendations on changes to the Code are made by the Fundraising Regulator’s Standards Committee in consultation with fundraising stakeholders. Decisions to change the code are subject to approval by the Fundraising Regulator’s Board

What does the Code cover?

The Code aims to cover ALL fundraising activities and has 20 different sections (as listed below)

How do I implement the Code?

At first glance, the Code can seem a little daunting.  However, I would recommend following the old adage, “eat the elephant one bite at a time”.

All organisations need to read Sections 1 and 2 to get an overview of the key principles in fundraising and to get an understanding of how best to work with volunteers when fundraising.

Having read these 2 sections and put some of the basics in place, the Code is then probably best accessed through its individual sections (as listed above). 

Not all types of fundraising activities are carried out by all organisations.  For this reason, you can simply check the relevant section of the Code each time you plan a fundraising activity.  This will ensure that everything you do within this particular activity is then in keeping with the principles and ethics laid down in the Code.

Example of using the Code in practice

If we look at the simply activity of applying for grants, we can see that complying with the Code is equally simple.

When applying for grants from Trust and Foundations, Section 10 simply states that you need to –

  • Avoid mass mailings unless there are exceptional circumstances, e.g. a national disaster or emergency.
  • Obtain permission of referees and let them see the application before submitting it.
  • Make sure that all applications fit within your organisation’s own objectives, i.e. that your governing document actually allows you to carry out the work within your application.

Follow this and you will be entirely compliant with the Code when you apply for any grant from a Trust of Foundation.

Once successful in securing your grant (!), you then simply need to check Section 10 again and remain compliant through actioning the clauses relating to managing your grant, etc.

For more information please see the Fundraising Regulator's website.

by Lynn Kennedy

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

Read more on...

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy: Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.