Charities get four months to implement changes to fundraising code

The Fundraising Regulator published the updated Code of Fundraising Practice today after consultation with the sector

Fundraising: must implement some aspects at once
Fundraising: must implement some aspects at once

Charities will have up to four months to implement the changes made to the Code of Fundraising Practice, the new version of which was published by the Fundraising Regulator today.

The new version of the code introduces six changes designed to promote transparency from fundraisers and was subject to a three-month consultation that closed in April.

In a statement, the regulator said charities would not have to introduce all of the changes immediately but would have a grace period of between two and four months to implement some of the more complex changes.

Fundraisers will be required to explain their relationship with a charity by reading the solicitation statement before people commit to making a donation, as was suggested in the consultation. But in its implementation timetable the regulator said it would take a flexible approach and would not enforce this until 30 November.

Under the new code, fundraisers will not be able to leave charity collection bags at houses that have signs asking them not to, a rule that will come into force on 30 September. But in a change from the consultation proposals, bags can be left at houses with "no-junk-mail" signs.

The updated code includes a new requirement that fundraisers end a fundraising ask if they have any reason to believe the person they are speaking to could be considered vulnerable. This was not included in the consultation proposal.

The code will also include the proposed requirement that telephone fundraisers adhere to the street fundraising rule that they must end a conversation immediately if requested to by the prospective donor. Charities will have two months to bring this into practice.

Fundraising organisations will have to have clear and published whistleblowing policies, as suggested in the consultation document, but the new version of the code makes clear this won’t have to be separate from the organisation’s standard whistleblowing policy. The regulator will begin enforcing this in four months’ time.

The new code will also call for trustees to be aware of their responsibilities to oversee fundraising under Charity Commission rules and does not offer any additional time for this: it said charities should be doing this already.

The existing version of the code requires charities to make a "reasonable effort" to monitor the behaviour of third-party fundraisers, and the consultation proposed adding a list of actions that would demonstrate they were fulfilling the requirement, such as regularly reviewing agency compliance training and regularly conducting mystery shopping exercises.

The new version of the code includes this list, but says demonstrating reasonableness "may" include some of these actions, which makes it clear that charities do not have to comply with each and every suggestion.

The regulator said this would be implemented immediately because organisations should already be making reasonable efforts to ensure the ongoing compliance of third-party fundraisers.

Suzanne McCarthy, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator’s standards committee, said the revised code was "striking a better balance for all on crucial fundraising issues".

She said: "A strong code encourages public trust and confidence in giving and helps charities to fundraise more effectively."

Stephanie Siddall, policy manager at the Institute of Fundraising, said the changes were welcome and would make a positive difference to the way charities fundraise.

"We are very glad that many of the sector’s comments and suggestions have been taken on board," she said.

"The changes today reflect what many of our members already consider the norm in excellent fundraising. By including these in the code, we can ensure best practice and high standards across the entire fundraising profession."

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