Guest Blog: The Fundraising Regulator - On New challenges and opportunities to learn

Fundraising Regulator

Joanne McDowell, NI Ireland Manager for the Fundraising Regulator, reflects on the challenges NI charities have faced over the past year & the opportunities to learn from the Fundraising Regulator’s new guidance & resources.

In a year of uncertainty and challenge, when public fundraising has been significantly restricted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is not surprising that charities have changed their approach, been creative and used their own experience and learning to adapt and respond to the shifting requirements. 

At the Fundraising Regulator we have seen more website visits from users based in Northern Ireland than in previous years. We have also have seen changes in the ways that charities have been using the Code of Fundraising Practice as organisations explore other fundraising methods as a source of income. For example, there have been increased visits to Section 12 of the code on Lotteries, prize competitions and free draws.

Whether trying new fundraising methods, or adapting existing techniques, it remains important for charities to familiarise themselves with the standards that apply, and fundraise in line with restrictions in Northern Ireland, regionally and according to our guidance. These arrangements should be reviewed regularly as they may change over time.

Throughout this year it has been great to work with NICVA and partners such as the Chartered Institute of Fundraising and Rural Community Network to run a series of online seminars. Participants have been able to discuss how they are working, and we have been able to respond to questions on practice and learning for the sector.

With changes in fundraising teams and engagement with new volunteers being a priority for many organisations, I encourage you to use the Fundraising Regulator’s new webinars on introducing the code, trustee responsibilities and handling complaints as these short videos are especially helpful for those new to fundraising. Please share these resources, discuss them with colleagues and use as part of any training your organisation offers to fundraisers and your board.

Furthermore, the Fundraising Regulator recently published our Annual Complaints Report 2019/20 which includes information about complaints we received and those reported by a sample of the UK’s largest fundraising charities. The report includes case studies and charities use the insights as a benchmarking tool. Whilst the legal requirements on complaints reporting across the UK varies, charities can use the information within as an opportunity to learn from best practice. I encourage you to read the report to apply the learning in your own context.

On a final note, I invite you to save the date of Monday 8 February 2021 for the Fundraising Regulator’s Annual Meeting. This will be an opportunity to reflect on the past year and outline our key priorities moving forward. This year we will hold our event in fully digital format for the first time, meaning more people based in Northern Ireland will be able to take part. We will be answering questions through a live Q&A. More details will be available soon about how you can join us.

You can get in touch with me via [email protected] if you would like any further information about the Fundraising Regulator.

The opinions, views or comments in this article do not necessarily reflect any views or policies of NICVA.

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