Regulator will take 'flexible approach' to regulating fundraising agreements until April

The legislation that covers agreements between charities and professional fundraising organisations comes into force today

Face-to-face fundraising
Face-to-face fundraising

The Fundraising Regulator has said it will take a "flexible approach" to regulating agreements between charities and professional fundraising organisations for the first five months of new rules that come into force today.

Sections of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 come into effect from today, including powers for the Charity Commission to issue official warnings to charities and new requirements stipulating that agreements between charities and professional fundraising organisations must cover certain areas.

The act says these agreements must set out how the commercial partner will protect the public from "unreasonable intrusion on a person’s privacy, unreasonably persistent approaches or undue pressure to give" and cover how compliance by the commercial partner will be monitored by the charity.

Guidance on the fundraising aspects of the new requirements, published on the Fundraising Regulator’s website, says that if agreements are not compliant with the law the charity will be in breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice.

But the guidance says that until 31 March the watchdog will take "a flexible approach in its expectations of updated agreements between charities, professional fundraisers and commercial participators".

The guidance provides examples of practices that could be considered to fall within the scope of terms in the act, such as placing undue pressure on people to give.

It says this could include "deliberately seeking to make a potential donor feel guilty", "failing to terminate a conversation when a person does not wish to be engaged" or "taking advantage of mistakes made by the donor to secure a donation".

Examples of where a fundraiser might been seen as making unreasonably persistent approaches to a donor include "deliberately obstructing a member of the public, for example by preventing a homeowner from shutting their door", or having a disproportionate balance between communicating a fundraising ask and "overwhelming or bombarding them with requests".

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