EDITORIAL: Charities should be willing to pay for new regulator

Lucy Maggs

The introduction of a fundraising regulator, as suggested by the Buse Commission, will give charities the means to reassure the public that they are raising money legitimately and that it is being used effectively.

The official stamp of approval from a regulator should boost giving to the sector as a whole.

Regulating and overseeing charities will inevitably incur some costs but, as the aim of the scheme is to benefit charities, organisations should be willing to foot some of the bill. Currently, Buse suggests that government should meet most of the costs, but that charities should stump up an average of £35 per year for their own regulation, which seems reasonable.

There is resistance in the sector and a feeling that this could be a barrier to some small charities signing up to the regulatory scheme. The argument is that some organisations are run on such a tight budget that even this small amount could be too costly.

But it seems unlikely that any charity small enough to be deterred by such a sum, would be involved in public fundraising. Most of the smallest groups raise money from grant-makers and should not need the approval of a regulator set up to oversee public fundraising.

The potential effects of any costs should, however, be thoroughly researched to establish what organisations can pay and how they can be modified to minimise impact. It would, for example, make sense to have some kind of sliding scale of registration costs, with the largest charities footing a higher proportion of the bill. There is also potential for group membership schemes, where some of the smallest charities could possibly arrange discounts for groups registering through umbrella organisations.

But as the aim of the scheme is to maintain public trust in the sector and that charities should benefit, it makes sense that organisations show their commitment to it by meeting some of its costs.

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