The government will accept all the recommendations of the Etherington review, says Rob Wilson

The Minister for Civil Society says this will include the establishment of a Fundraising Preference Service, which would enable people to opt out of all telephone and direct mail fundraising

Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society
Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society

Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, has said that the government will accept in full the recommendations of Sir Stuart Etherington's review of the self-regulation of fundraising, including the establishment of a Fundraising Preference Service.

In an announcement this morning, Wilson said that large charities, likely to be defined as those that spend £100,000 or more a year on public fundraising, "could be forced to sign up to a new fundraising watchdog".

Wilson said the new body, which under Etherington's recommendations would be called the Fundraising Regulator, would be funded by charities themselves and given responsibility for the Code of Fundraising Practice, which currently sits with the Institute of Fundraising.

Speaking about the proposed Fundraising Preference Service, which would enable people to opt out of all charity fundraising phone calls and direct mail, the minister said that anyone who was "inundated with fundraising marketing material from charities will be able to press 'reset' and stop receiving this material".

The FPS is expected to be managed by the proposed new Fundraising Regulator.

Wilson said that if charities failed to appropriately safeguard their supporters the government would have new powers to intervene and regulate charity fundraising.

He said that new measures in the Charities Bill, currently going through parliament, would give the Charity Commission more power to tackle abuse by charity fundraisers.

It is understood that a summit will be arranged with sector leaders in the next couple of weeks to talk through the issues raised and set out the way forward.

The Institute of Fundraising this week began a consultation with members on the proposal for a Fundraising Preference Service, which Peter Lewis, its chief executive, had bracketed among the more "controversial" proposals in the review.

Wilson said: "Charitable giving is one of the most decent and generous attributes of a civilised society – and we need to rebuild people’s faith in the big charities. Those who give to charity should know their donations are going to further a worthy cause and this trust will never be abused.

"We are building a new regulatory structure to make sure the right safeguards exist to protect those people at risk of exploitation. This should help the charities to draw a line under previous bad practice and I hope we will see even more people making donations and giving their time to help others in the months and years ahead."

Etherington, who is also chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said in a statement that the recommendations would mean big changes in how charities raise funds from the public.

He said he had agreed with Wilson that "we should move quickly towards implementation and look forward to working with the bodies affected and others in the charity sector to work through the finer details".

He said: "The public have to know where to report their concerns and have confidence that action will be taken in relation to wrongdoing.

"I know that charities understand the necessity of restoring public trust and are aware that changes are required."

William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, said Etherington's review was an important step towards rebuilding public trust in charity fundraising.

"Charities must now step up to reform and strengthen self-regulation, and to show that they can and will put the public interest first," he said. "The Charity Commission will play its part to support the development of the new fundraising regulatory body."

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