Regulation: The Disasters Emergency Committee

Rosie Chapman, executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission, says the DEC did the right thing over the banning of its TV appeal

The Disasters Emergency Committee responded openly to the controversy surrounding the decision by the BBC and Sky not to broadcast its Gaza appeal last month. This should serve as a good example to other charities campaigning on and fundraising for issues that some view as contentious.

Our guidance, including Speaking Out - Campaigning And Political Activity By Charities and Charities And Fundraising, has always been clear that this kind of campaigning and fundraising can happen if it clearly furthers the charity's objects, and this is something the 13 members of the DEC coalition were happy to explain.

The DEC's website includes a section that clearly explains the criteria for its decision to launch an appeal. Accusations of political bias are an ever-present danger for charities that campaign, but by explaining - and sticking to - their published criteria, such organisations can provide immediate rebuttal.

Speaking Out urges charities considering this type of activity to consider whether the benefits of campaigning outweigh the costs and the risks. Again, the DEC's criteria are fairly hard-headed. One is that it must have reasonable grounds for believing a public appeal will actually be successful; another is that DEC members must actually be in a position to provide effective assistance on a sufficient scale to justify a national appeal.

Being clear from the start about the grounds for decisions helps to demonstrate a balanced approach with no hint of political bias, and helps charities get straight to the issue of humanitarian need itself.

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