Institute unveils guide on cross-border fundraising

Charities that receive donations from people living outside their areas of operation must let donors know if there are other organisations with similar missions in their area, according to the Institute of Fundraising's new best practice guide on cross-border fundraising.

The guide, published today, is a response to concerns from some Scottish charities about English charities that fundraise in Scotland even though they don't operate north of the border. Last year the Scottish SPCA ran a poster campaign alerting Scots to the fact that the RSPCA does not operate in Scotland (Third Sector, 22 August 2007, page 5).

"Many Scots don't understand that we are entirely separate from the RSPCA, which adds to the confusion by continuing to advertise in Scotland," said Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish SPCA. "The fact they care only for animals in England and Wales is only ever in the small print. This leads to many donations going south of the border."

The code, which has been drawn up by a working group including institute members from across the UK, says donors must be told where their donations will be spent, and charities must be sensitive to their expectations.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said the charity fully supported the open and honest approach promoted by the code, which it helped to create. She said: "We have always been mindful of the damage that sister charities operating on either side of the border could do to each other and have for many years operated informal procedures with the SSPCA very close to those advocated in the code. Despite not being registered in the whole of the UK, the RSPCA is regarded by many as a national brand."

The guide says:

  • Donors must know where their money will be spent
  • Charities must be sensitive to donor's expectations of where their money will be spent
  • Charities receiving donations from donors residing outside their areas of operation must make them aware of services offered by any sister organisations offering equivalent services there
  • All parties should be involved in joint working from the earliest stages and throughout the process
  • The institute's code of practice on accountability and transparency must be followed
  • Any agreements or protocols between sister organisations must be endorsed by all high-level stakeholders, particularly chief executives and trustees
  • Information and publicity materials must make clear the agreement between cross-border charities

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