Acevo director Asheem Singh says amendments to charities bill will not have intended effect

The director of public policy says requiring charities to include details of fundraising complaints in their annual reports would not take into account extenuating circumstances

Asheem Singh
Asheem Singh

The charity chief executives body Acevo has criticised amendments to the charities bill that would require large charities to disclose in their annual reports how many fundraising complaints they receive.

The government this week introduced amendments to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill to the effect that charities with incomes of more than £1m a year would have to include sections in their annual reports showing the "number of complaints received by the charity or a person acting on its behalf about activities by the charity or by a person on behalf of the charity for the purpose of fundraising".

Asheem Singh, director of public policy at Acevo, said he welcomed measures that reassured the public about the probity of the sector’s fundraising activity, but the amendments, though well intentioned, would not do that.

"Heavy-handed government micro-regulation seldom works; it produces unintended consequences and moral hazards," he said. "The measures proposed, as written, do not take into account extenuating circumstances such as vexatious complaints, for example.

"Fundraising must be improved, but the way to do it is not by strong-arming charities to rewrite their annual reports."

Singh said that the joint guidance on fundraising being developed by Acevo, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Charity Finance Group and the Institute of Fundraising "will provide a more considered approach that will work for charities and the public alike".

Individual charities took a more accepting stance on the latest development.

The NSPCC said that it "welcomed stronger regulation that helps raise essential funds for important causes with public confidence".

Macmillan Cancer Support said in a statement: "At Macmillan we strongly welcome both a complete review of the current regulations in place and more robust guidance to help us protect the most vulnerable people in society."

Tim Hunter, director of fundraising at Oxfam, said: "Oxfam welcomes these changes, which will help rid the sector of rogue fundraisers and protect people from unwanted calls."

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