Charities can consider restarting public fundraising if it is safe, new guidance suggests

Documents from the Fundraising Regulator and the Institute of Fundraising say, however, that it cannot be business as usual just yet

Charities can return to public fundraising if they judge it to be safe, new guidance published by the Fundraising Regulator and the Institute of Fundraising suggests. 

But the guidance warns that charities are unlikely to be able to return to business as usual just yet, and says they must ensure social distancing is observed.

The two documents released today are the first in a series of resources the two bodies plan to publish in the coming weeks. One is a guide to the over-arching principles that should be applied to all fundraising methods; the other is specific advice on public fundraising

As government lockdown restrictions to deal with the coronavirus pandemic are eased over the coming weeks, many organisations will be looking to resume fundraising activities. 

Charities have been unable to carry out many public fundraising activities since lockdown began in March. 

Last week a survey by the IoF and the Charity Finance Group found that on average respondents expected to lose 24 per cent of their income for this year as a result of the pandemic, totalling an estimated £12.4bn for the sector as a whole.

Today’s guidance warns that “fundraising should only restart when fundraising organisations are satisfied that this can be done safely, in line with government advice and where the risks associated with the activities can be properly managed”, and calls on organisations to undertake full risk assessments first.

It also warns that devolved nations should take into account their own governments' advice, because it might differ from that offered by Westminster.

Elsewhere it says “going back to a complete ‘business as usual’ is unlikely to be acceptable or realistic” and any fundraising activities that do resume must be carried out “sensitively, safely and responsibly”. 

A statement accompanying the guidance points out that community fundraising events involving large groups of people, or mass-participation events, cannot safely resume under current social distancing rules.

Priya Warner, head of policy at the Fundraising Regulator, said the guidance was intended to support the sector as it looked to resume fundraising activity. 

But she added: “It’s the responsibility of individual charities to exercise judgement about when and how to resume fundraising, and this should only be when thorough risk assessments have been carried out and informed decisions based on each individual organisation’s unique circumstances have been made.”

Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and external affairs at the Institute of Fundraising, said that with the re-opening of non-essential shops and businesses, it was appropriate for charities to be thinking about how they could restart fundraising in a safe and responsible way. 

“Charities have taken a massive hit to their income due to the coronavirus pandemic, and restarting fundraising is going to be really important to keep charity services running as well as enabling the sector to play its full role in wider recovery,” he said.

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