Consultation shows preference for joining Fundraising Regulator

25 Apr 2017 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 26 Apr 2017

Over the last few months the Fundraising Regulation working group have been consulting with the sector on the best option for fundraising regulation in NI. This is an update of progress to date. 

There were 47 responses to the online survey, 2 position papers submitted and 2 consultation events held.

Results of the consultation

Out of the 47 responses to the on line survey 34 were satisfied or very satisfied with Fundraising Regulator (FR) and 11 very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with FR; and 18 were satisfied or very satisfied with NI fundraising complaints service and 22 very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with NI service.

Some of the principles that were expressed through comments made were:

  • Affordability
  • Capacity
  • Same regulation across UK
  • Simplicity and clarity for donors
  • Donor experience is paramount
  • Proportionate - Small number of complaints
  • Need for expertise and knowledge
  • Action is needed to promote and protect public confidence in charities.

Some of the concerns expressed through the survey were:

  • Having to pay fees
  • “Stigma” of not joining
  • NI requires investment in capacity building before being able to attain the standards of the revised Code of FR Practice.
  • Not having local control
  • Smaller groups in NI would not be aware of the codes of practice and therefore, unwittingly, be in breach of the regulator.

Most people who replied to the survey preferred the option of joining the Fundraising Regulator and there was no clear mandate for establishing a specific NI regulator/body. However, there are still some questions to be answered and concerns to be address so the working group plans to meet with the Fundraising Regulator as soon as possible to discuss these issues and then formally make a recommendation on the way forward. It is vital that the FR develops good connections and relationships with NI through organisations like NICVA, IOF, CCNI and other network organisations; in order that we don’t get lost as small fish in a big pond and that they understand our landscape and legislation.

The British Heart Foundation submitted a response in support of joining the Fundraising Regulator. They stated that “This approach would provide a consistent, unitary and clear fundraising regulatory system for the public and the charitable sector in Northern Ireland and align with established arrangements in England and Wales. The simplicity and consistency offered by this Option would help ensure compliance across the whole charitable sector in Northern Ireland and would increase efficiency. In doing so it would also allow those charities to maximise their charitable spend and provides a ‘ready to go’ solution, with clearly established processes and procedures.”

The Institute of Fundraising (IOF) submitted a response stating that “IOF members could not find an overall clear consensus on a single choice of regulator. The consultation event held by IOF Northern Ireland highlighted that for UK-wide charities operating in Northern Ireland there would be a clear preference for the same system of Regulation as in England and Wales (and indeed Scotland). For Northern Ireland only charities there was more resistance to having the Fundraising Regulator as the single fundraising oversight body. The IOF members agreed that the Fundraising Regulator should be able to operate in Northern Ireland for those organisations who want to come join as levy payers or subscribers.”

Need to resource improving fundraising practice

There was a clear appetite for improving fundraising practice and a real need expressed for support in terms of fundraising practice and resourcing issues of best practice. A significant number of people suggested establishing a specific "Northern Ireland Fundraising Practice programme and/or group”, where interested parties could work collaboratively to promote best practice and, if necessary, identify and secure additional resources. Capacity building for the sector is a must.

The survey showed that support was needed to build capacity in fundraising practice most people would benefit from online information and guidance (64%) as well as access to fundraising health check (62%) and training sessions (55%).

The IOF response also reinforced the need for more investment in the development of fundraising practice and compliance in Northern Ireland. The IOF members in Northern Ireland believe that compliance and standards improvement needs to go hand in hand with investment in fundraising skills in fundraising and building fundraising capacity in charities.

We will provide a further update with formal recommendations once we have met with the Fundraising Regulator. In the meantime if you have any questions please contact me [email protected]'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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