Code-setter for fundraising should not be part of the IoF, Andrew Hind tells parliamentary committee

Hind, due to take over as chair of the Fundraising Standards Board, also tells the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee the FRSB needs a harder-edged approach rather than new powers

Andre Hind
Andre Hind

- This article was clarified on 8 September 2015; please see final paragraph

Andrew Hind, the incoming chair of the Fundraising Standards Board, told MPs today that the body responsible for setting fundraising rules should be housed outside the Institute of Fundraising because there were too many vested interests inside the organisation.

Hind, who takes up the post of chair of the FRSB next week, was one of several fundraising leaders questioned this morning at a meeting of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee as part of its inquiry into call centre fundraising.

Hind called for the FRSB's authority to be reinforced by the Charity Commission, saying the two regulators should sign a memorandum of understanding in which the commission would commit to intervening with its legal powers in cases where this was necessary.

"The FRSB doesn't need new powers," he said. "It needs a harder-edged approach than it has taken in the past."

His comments came after the Institute of Fundraising coordinated a letter, signed by 17 major charities, which called for the FRSB to be replaced by an independent regulator that would work with the Charity Commission to enforce fundraising rules.

Hind told MPs today that the existing structure of regulation for fundraising was not effective and having the standards committee – the body that sets the Code of Fundraising Practice – operating as a unit of the IoF had led to the code becoming too weak.

He said the standards committee had failed to outlaw practices the public had repeatedly said they did not like and it was not enough for the committee to appoint several independent members.

The committee should have a majority of lay members and be housed outside the IoF, said Hind.

The IoF announced the appointment of its first independent chair yesterday and is expected in the coming weeks to announce three additional members who are not affiliated with the fundraising sector.

Alistair McLean, chief executive of the FRSB, also criticised the IoF's slowness at responding to FRSB recommendations to change the the code, saying it was an obvious conflict for the code to be set by fundraisers.

"I have lots of examples of cases where our recommendations have been kicked a long way down the road," he said, referencing the FRSB's request that the IoF amend the code in respect of no cold-calling stickers, which he said happened only after the death of Olive Cooke earlier this year and more than a year after the FRSB first requested it.

But Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said he rejected the allegation that the code was not strong enough. "We have consistently been ahead of the recommendations of the FRSB," he told MPs.

Richard Taylor, chair of the IoF, told the committee that it would be a mistake to remove fundraisers’ expertise from the code-setting process."It is not the code that is responsible for the bad behaviour we've seen," he said.

The Public Fundraising Association said it supported the model for regulation that the IoF and several charities were advocating: having the Charity Commission acting as the overall regulator for fundraising but appointing an independent regulator to carry out day-to-day activities on its behalf. Paul Stallard, chair of the PFRA, said a public awareness campaign for such a system would cost between £5m and £10m and charities would need to pay for this.

- The story originally said Paul Stallard had said the suggested new regulatory system would cost between £5m and £10m to implement.

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