Regulator plans rule book for private-site fundraising

During a webinar, Stephen Service of the Fundraising Regulator says he wants better standards for the practice at supermarkets, shopping centres and other private sites

Private-site fundraising
Private-site fundraising

The Fundraising Regulator is planning to develop a rule book for private-site fundraising in collaboration with the Institute of Fundraising.

In a webinar on the proposed changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice, which are currently out for consultation, Stephen Service, policy manager at the Fundraising Regulator, said he would like to see higher standards applied to fundraising in supermarkets, shopping centres and other privately owned sites.

He said the regulator had a strong working relationship with the IoF and would be working with its compliance team on the rule book.

"We appreciate that private-site fundraising, unlike other forms of face-to-face, has largely gone without a rule book of its own, and we’d like to see the same standards applied to private site fundraising as we see in street and door-to-door fundraising," Service said.

During the webinar, which was hosted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Gerald Oppenheim, head of policy at the Fundraising Regulator, said sensitivity in face-to-face fundraising was more important than having a fixed number of times that a fundraiser could ask a person to donate.

The consultation document proposes changes to the number of times a fundraiser could ask for a contribution. They would still be limited to three asks, but the rule would apply only to financial contributions, not to donations of time or requests for support.

Oppenheim said: "The person doing the fundraising, whether phone, street or door-to-door, understands when the person says no and wants to bring the discussion to an end.

"You can have a very dry and academic debate about whether you can ask once, twice, three or even four times, but the critical thing is that there is sensitivity towards the member of public being approached."

Otherwise, he said, the interaction could lead to an "awkward reverse auction" in which the fundraiser suggests smaller and smaller amounts for the person to donate, leaving them feeling pressured.

"What we are looking for here is a common-sense approach that accepts that and recognises when they don’t want to give," he said.

Oppenheim added that having a finite number of asks might not be helpful in situations where the person was interested in donating but the fundraiser wanted to ensure they were clear about what they signing up to.

Service agreed, saying the regulator wanted to balance being too prescriptive and too generalised, and to put the onus on fundraisers to make the decision.

"What we’re saying is there might be times when three asks is appropriate, but there might also be times when someone is clearly saying they do not want to continue," he said.

The consultation will run until 28 April and the document is available on the Fundraising Regulator’s website.

If you’re interested in fundraising, you can’t miss Third Sector’s Annual Fundraising Conference on 23 and 24 May. Click here for more information and to book at the Early Bird rate.

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