Concentrate on facts, not values, Rogare's Ian MacQuillin tells Fundraising Regulator

In response to a consultation on the Code of Fundraising Practice, think tank says a new clause on reflecting charities' values is unhelpful

Ian MacQuillin
Ian MacQuillin

The Fundraising Regulator should not get involved with regulating charities’ values and should stick to the facts in its revised Code of Fundraising Practice, the fundraising think tank Rogare has said.

In its response to the Fundraising Regulator’s consultation on its draft update of the code, Rogare praised the regulator’s approach as "sensible and proportionate" on the whole.

But it warned that inclusion of a new provision calling for charities to ensure third-party fundraisers operate in a way that reflects the charity’s values was redundant and unhelpful.

The response, written by Ian MacQuillin, director of the centre, acknowledged that charities should have reasonable checks in place to monitor third-party contractors and should buy into a culture of monitoring and compliance.

But it said that the idea of values was "nebulous" and it would be difficult in practice to decide whether or to what extent the values of an organisation were reflected.

It said "other, more concrete rules" would have had to have been breached if a third party had failed to reflect the charity’s values, so the Fundraising Regulator would have plenty of scope for action without having to investigate the issue of values.

"We think that the Fundraising Regulator ought to concern itself with the facts of regulation – ie whether concrete, tangible provisions of the code have been breached," the response said.

"We do not think it is the role of the regulator to become involved in regulating a charity’s values, or how it communicates those values. We think this could lead to any regulator exceeding its regulatory remit by imposing its own values about how the thing it regulates ought to be done, rather than sticking to the facts about how that thing is or isn’t done according to the code."

Rogare suggested this provision could be included as good practice guidance rather than including it as a provision by which the regulator could adjudicate.

The draft code would introduce a distinction between requests for financial and non-financial support. The existing version of the code says fundraisers may make only three requests for support in one interaction, but the draft update says they may ask for financial support only three times, but can ask for other forms of support, such as signing a petition, an unlimited number of times.

But the response warned that this was likely to cause confusion, and said: "We also cannot see the rationale for separating financial from non-financial contributions: if a person does not want to sign a petition after three times of asking, it seems unlikely they will sign it after the fourth."

In its consultation response, the Institute of Fundraising warned that fundraisers needed to be given time to adjust to any changes to the code.

"Thought and consideration need to be given to appropriate transition times to be introduced alongside any changes to the code, as well as the production of any further guidance or resources which are needed to explain or clarify new requirements," the response said.

The consultation, which opened on 3 February, closes today.

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