Fundraising Regulator 'should have no Scottish role'

A report from the working group on regulation north of the border says fundraising should be regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves

The Fundraising Regulator should have no jurisdiction in Scotland, the working group deciding how best to regulate fundraising north of the border has told the Scottish government.

In a report published today, the group, which was convened by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations in December, says Scotland should instead be regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves.

Charities operating in Scotland but registered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should be answerable to the Fundraising Regulator, the report says.

It says that a new independent panel comprising members of the public, donors, charities, fundraisers, the OSCR and the Scottish government, will now be convened to develop a robust set of standards for charities and this should also be enabled to support OSCR’s handling of complaints about fundraising.

Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities in the Scottish government, said in a statement issued with the report that she would consider its recommendations.

The report comes after consultation with the nation’s public and charities, which included asking for feedback on a discussion paper that recommended greater responsibility should be placed on fundraising charities to self-regulate and that OSCR be given an enhanced, ombudsman-style role.

Respondents to the paper, who completed an online survey, were given three options to choose from: a UK-wide regulatory approach under the new Fundraising Regulator; a "hybrid" approach whereby a Scotland-specific regulator would be created; and the group’s preferred option, which it referred to as the "Scottish regulatory approach".

"Option three had most support overall, and had significantly more support from among Scottish charities than the other options," says the report.

"This option was seen as being sensitive to the charity environment in Scotland, as utilising a successful relationship with OSCR, applying automatically to all charities, being easy for the public to understand and cost effective."

The report says that focus groups conducted by the polling company Ipsos Mori Scotland in May showed that members of the public found the idea of the UK Fundraising Regulator operating in Scotland confusing and did not like the fact that it was UK-wide.

The report says the charities that fed into the process were unconvinced that the new Fundraising Preference Service should be adopted in Scotland because they did not believe it offered anything more than the existing Telephone Preference Service and Mailing Preference Service.

It recommends instead that a telephone and web-based fundraising complaints hub be created that would automatically deliver grievances about charities to the appropriate bodies.

The report also calls for Scottish fundraising standards to be aligned with UK standards and recommends that the new independent panel work with the Fundraising Regulator to adopt and develop the existing Code of Fundraising Practice, although it says the panel should also reserve the right to develop its own standards for Scotland.

The consultation process involved an online survey of sector professionals that received 505 responses; an SCVO-hosted discussion event attended by 60 people in February; 23 formal written submissions and 17 round-table discussions with sector participants held during April and May.

The Ipsos Mori focus groups were held in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh during May.

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