The Fundraising Standards Board has published new guidance on fundraising that asks donors to sponsor children.
The Child Sponsorship Charter, published today, was compiled after a complaint was made by a member of the public about a television advertisement from the international children’s development charity Plan UK.
The complainant alleged that the advert misled viewers by implying their donations would help individual children when they actually went towards supporting whole communities. The complaint was rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority last year.
The charter, which updates guidance compiled by development charities in 2001, says: "Development agencies which promise or imply benefits to sponsored children in their marketing materials ought to have procedures to confirm that sponsored children received implied or promised benefits."
It says charities that do not use funds for an individual child’s direct benefit should communicate this in marketing materials.
A spokeswoman for the FRSB said it was a voluntary set of guidelines, but a charity that did not abide by it would be asked to do so.
"The aim is to help improve child sponsorship fundraising with greater transparency and, above all, clarity, so the public can be confident in their giving choices," she said.
"We would encourage all charities that work in this area to commit to and adopt the charter into their practices."
Jeremy Cooper, fundraising director at Plan UK, said: "Child sponsorship is such a great way to bring international development issues to life. I’m really pleased we’ve come together to agree common standards and guidelines on how to promote it in the UK."
The guidance was drawn up by the FRSB after consultation with the Institute of Fundraising, the Charity Commission, the Committee of Advertising Practice and some charities that run child sponsorship programmes.