Fundraising: Charities asked for views on 'ten commandments'

Fundraising organisations are being invited to comment on the proposed 'ten commandments' of fundraising that will form the revised Donors' Charter.

Organisations that sign up to the Fundraising Standards Board's new self-regulation scheme will be required to commit themselves to the principles and to promote the charter to donors.

The board last week announced a 12-week public consultation period on the charter, which was originally written by the Institute of Fundraising. Key changes include a promise by fundraising organisations to deal with complaints from members of the public within 30 days, and to answer all "reasonable" questions about fundraising and administration costs.

The board hopes the charter will form a "public promise outlining the principles of the relationship between a charity and its donors".

Jon Scourse, director of the board, said: "We set out with the 'ten commandments' concept to make sure the charter is more donor-facing than before. We were determined to be more specific, not platitudinous. It's not the FSB's promise - this charter will form charities' own promise to their donors."

Unlike the previous version of the charter, which offered nine general 'undertakings' to donors, each of the new version's 10 promises includes several specific commitments. For example, under the promise "we are respectful to donors", commitments are made not to use excessive emotional arguments that make donors feel guilty, and not to put unfair pressure on people to make a donation.

Stewart Marks, head of fundraising operations at Marie Curie Cancer Care, welcomed the proposed charter. "It's clear about how best practice should be," he said. "Good fundraising organisations already work in this way."

The proposed charter requires fundraising organisations to acknowledge receipt of complaints in seven days, and to deal with them within 30 days. The FSB promises to acknowledge complaints in seven days and to deal with them within 60 days.

"The timescales were devised in consultation with other self-regulatory organisations, such as the Direct Marketing Association, which set similar undertakings," said Scourse.

The consultation period closes on 1 September. The board's compliance officer will then consider responses and advise the board on amendments to the charter.

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