Fundraising firm failed to state clearly how funds were allocated, FRSB rules

The regulator upholds a complaint against Sports For Champions, which runs schools-based fundraising events

Fundraising Standards Board
Fundraising Standards Board

The Fundraising Standards Board has upheld a complaint that a company running schools-based fundraising events failed to make clear how the funds it raised would be allocated.

In its latest ruling, published today, the FRSB says it has upheld the complaint at board level – the third and final stage of its complaints process – but has rejected a complaint that the Sports For Champions fundraising model, which involved schoolchildren competing with their peers for sponsorship in return for incentives, was unethical.

The ruling was made on 11 March and found that the company, which is an FRSB member, had breached section 5.2(f) of the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice because it had not included a statement in its fundraising materials about how the funds raised were used.

The code says that organisations working in partnership with others ought to state how monies will be allocated between them.

The FRSB also ruled that the IoF, which sets the codes, should review its Fundraising in Schools guidance, which accompanies the Code of Fundraising Practice, to assess whether any of the additional guidance should be introduced into the main code.

The ruling says that "the FRSB board encouraged the IoF to consider whether unequivocal statements contained in its best practice guidance (eg should not, do not) should be put back into the main body of the code".

The complainant contacted the FRSB in November with concerns about a fundraising event that was being run at their child’s school, which is not named in the adjudication.

The complainant was unhappy that the company had not set out what would happen with the funds raised and concerned at the competitive nature of the fundraising among participating schoolchildren.

The FRSB advised the complainant to take up their concerns with Sports For Champions, which responded by saying that 60 per cent of the funds it raised through events went to the school and 40 per cent to athletes who were struggling to fund their training costs.

But the complainant was not satisfied with this response and pursued the complaint with the FRSB.

"The FRSB board concluded that, at the time of the complaint being made, Sports For Champions had been in breach of this clause because the 60/40 per cent split had not been made clear on all promotional literature," the FRSB’s ruling says.

"However, the FRSB board acknowledged that Sports For Champions had since made significant changes to its sponsorship forms, welcome pack and website, which now made it clear how the proceeds raised from its events were split."

The FRSB also considered whether the nature of the fundraising activities constituted a breach of section 3.3 of the IoF code, which says that organisations "ought to provide children and parents/guardians with guidance on how to undertake fundraising safely and legally".

It concluded that the company had not breached this clause because the company delivered a presentation to all participating schools reminding children to approach only "safe donors", such as friends, parents and other relatives, for sponsorship, and to never approach strangers.

The headteacher of the school told the FRSB that Sports For Champions had given a clear message during a school assembly about being safe when seeking sponsorship, the ruling says.

Colin Lloyd, chair of the FRSB, said about the adjudication: "Being open with supporters is critical for building public trust. Charity fundraising materials must make it absolutely clear to supporters and sponsors where their donations are going."

He added that Sports For Champions should be commended for working quickly to rectify the breach of the code.

Sports For Champions did not respond to a request for comment from Third Sector.

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