Fundraising Regulator plans to spend £200k setting up preference service

According to documents seen by Third Sector, it wants the service to go live late this year

Regulator: preference service will cost £200,000
Regulator: preference service will cost £200,000

The new Fundraising Regulator plans to spend £200,000 setting up the Fundraising Preference Service, which it aims to launch later this year, according to documents seen by Third Sector.

The regulator’s budget to 2017 shows that it is aiming for a "go-live date" of late 2016 for the FPS and plans to have permanent staffing in place for it from October onwards.

The documents show that the regulator intends to have spent a total of £437,000 by the end of July and a further £1m in the eight months to March 2017. This will be funded by a levy on the largest 2,000 charities, which the documents say could be determined based on each organisation’s level of activity or other factors.

The regulator will have spent £65,000 on "board and AGM costs" by the end of July and a further £77,000 in the eight months to March 2017.

It plans to hold reserves of £313,000 by the end of July and will have increased this to £810,000 by March 2017.

Third Sector understands that several large charities are concerned the regulator is budgeting so little for the FPS.

The budget shows that the £200,000 will cover the FPS’s initial set-up costs, as well as its research, promotion and running costs, although it says additional sums will be needed for system developments in successive years.

"The Institute of Fundraising has been saying it wants the service to be multi-optional and tailored to people’s preferences, but you’re not going to get that for £200,000," an informed source said. "You’ll get a big red button that just switches everything off."

The source, who has spoken to the charities, said the amount being set aside for governance costs was also causing anxiety, as was the amount of reserves the regulator intended to hold.

"You could understand why they would want to build up those reserves over a three or four-year period," he said. "But, at a time when a lot of charities are struggling to balance the books, it seems like a bit of a kick to see the regulator parking a load of cash and not doing anything with it."

The budget says the regulator plans to starting charging charities a levy from July onwards. But with a month to go the regulator has still not held a consultation on its plans to charge the levy, although it has said this will be published before it is launched.

A spokesman for the regulator said it was now intended that the levy would apply from August.

The documents also show that the regulator is budgeting to have an office in Scotland that would have two staff, even though it is still not yet known what model of fundraising regulation will apply north of the border.

The regulator’s spokesman said the budget was prepared on the basis that the regulator would be UK-wide, like the Fundraising Standards Board, but it could be amended if Scotland indicated it wanted a different system.

Commenting on the FPS, he said the regulator would publish a discussion paper about the service after its board meeting on 13 July. It would then finalise its budget, he said.

He declined to comment on the regulator’s governance costs and reserves, saying: "The Fundraising Regulator is happy to discuss any questions charities have directly with those charities."

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