Fundraising Regulator appoints representatives of investigated charities to new committees

Save the Children and Unicef UK are among those implicated in a newspaper exposé of the fundraising agency Neet Feet, which the regulator is looking into

- This story has been corrected; please see final paragraph

The Fundraising Regulator has appointed representatives from Save the Children and Unicef UK – two of the charities implicated in The Sun’s investigation this week into the fundraising agency Neet Feet – to its new standards and adjudication committees.

Nick Jones, interim executive director of marketing, fundraising and communications at Save the Children, is one of six appointments to the regulator’s standards committee, while Catherine Cottrell, deputy executive director of fundraising at Unicef UK, is one of seven people who have joined the adjudication committee, according to the regulator’s website.

The standards committee has been set up to oversee the development of the Code of Fundraising Practice, responsibility for which was last week formally transferred from the Institute of Fundraising. The adjudication committee will be responsible for ruling on cases investigated by the regulator.

The Sun’s exposé on Monday claimed that fundraisers working on behalf of Save the Children, Unicef and several other charities were targeting elderly people with aggressive doorstep techniques. The Fundraising Regulator said it would investigate the situation, meaning that its first high-profile inquiry will look into organisations with representation on its committees.

Save the Children and Unicef were also associated with the fundraising scandals of last year.

Unicef was among the charities that came under fire for working with the agency Listen last summer, which was accused of breaches of the Code of Fundraising Practice after an undercover investigation by The Mail on Sunday newspaper. The charity continues to use Listen.

Asked if the regulator thought it appropriate to appoint committee members from these organisations, the regulator’s spokesman said that Jones and Cottrell were appointed on the basis of their individual expertise and experience and not as representatives of particular charities.

He said they would not be able to participate in any debates or decision-making affecting their own charities. "All conflicts of interest will be declared, with consideration given to how they can be managed," he said.

The adjudication committee will be chaired by Michael Smyth, the chair of Community Links and a visiting professor at Queen Mary University of London. The other members are: Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive of the Public Fundraising Association; Andrew Nebel, a former trustee of the Institute of Fundraising who was board member of the Fundraising Standards Board until last week; John Stoker, the former chief charity commissioner; Jenny Williams, former chief executive of the Gambling Commission; and Lucy Caldicott, a charity leadership consultant.

The standards committee is chaired by Suzanne McCarthy, the former Immigration Services Commissioner, who was originally recruited by the IoF to run its standards committee before it was transferred to the new regulator.

The remaining four members are: Louise Parkes, director of fundraising at Barnardo’s; Guy Parker, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority; the broadcaster and journalist Liz Barclay; and David Cunningham, chief executive of the Scottish charity the Archie Foundation.

The creation of the new standards committee under the umbrella of the regulator comes after Sir Stuart Etherington said in his review of fundraising last summer that the Institute of Fundraising was open to accusations of conflicts of interest and had not administered the code of practice in a way that had protected public confidence.

- The story originally said that Save the Children had been under investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office for potential breaches of Telephone Preference Service rules but the charity said this was not the case. 

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