Charities that fail to heed Fundraising Regulator warnings will be referred to Charity Commission

The pledge is included in a memorandum of understanding between the two regulators, which has been published today

Charities that repeatedly fail to take action to address the Fundraising Regulator’s rulings will be referred to the Charity Commission, according to a memorandum of understanding between the two regulators.

The MoU, published today, outlines the criteria that would result in complaints being referred to the commission.

The document, which was signed by the chief executives of the commission and the Fundraising Regulator last month, shows that while the Fundraising Regulator will be the first point of call for fundraising complaints, cases will be referred to the commission if a charity repeatedly fails to respond to the Fundraising Regulator’s rulings.

This will be the case particularly if the charity shows an ability to address rulings by the adjudication committee, which is chaired by Michael Smyth, a visiting professor at Queen Mary University of London.

The MoU says that action requested of organisations found to have breached the Code of Fundraising Practice might include recommending that their fundraisers undergo relevant training or that they refer to online guidance to improve their approach. They might also be asked to provide evidence as to how they would remedy their behaviour in future campaigns or to publish a public apology.

In other cases, organisations may be asked to suspend their fundraising or have their fundraising campaigns cleared by the regulator for a period of time.

Other situations which would result in immediate referral to the Charity Commission include cases that involve serious concerns about trustee conduct; serious concerns about the financial management of the charity; or serious breaches of trust including methods of fundraising which are deemed inappropriate for a charity.

Cases in which the regulator had serious concerns that a charity was not being used for exclusively charitable purposes would also be referred to the commission, the MoU says.

The document says that in cases where a fundraising concern forms part of wider concerns about a charity, they will either be undertaken by both regulators simultaneously or one regulator will complete its case and pass the additional concerns to the other body, who could then take into account the outcome of the other regulator’s case.

The MoU also says that while the Charity Commission is obliged to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, if it receives any requests for information provided by the Fundraising Regulator, the latter regulator – which is a company limited by guarantee and thus not subject to FOI legislation – will then have the chance to say whether it believes that the information should be released.

Another MoU is being developed between the Fundraising Regulator and the Institute of Fundraising. According to an update posted on the regulator’s website on Friday, Gerald Oppenheim, the regulator’s head of policy, and Stephen Service, its policy manager, met the IoF last month to discuss opportunities for "collaborative working and the development of a memorandum of understanding following the transfer of the Code of Fundraising Practice."

As part of this arrangement, the Fundraising Regulator has agreed to meet the IoF on a monthly basis to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern.

Oppenheim and Service – who originally joined the regulator on a six-month secondment from the Public Fundraising Association  – also met representatives from the Fundraising Standards Board and Transport for London last month.

"Discussion focused on the FR’s registration process, existing FRSB agreements with its stakeholders and support required for FRSB members to ease transition between the old and new regulatory systems," the update said.

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