Fundraising Regulator 'had to beg' for funding, says Stephen Dunmore

The interim chief executive tells an Honorary Treasurers Forum symposium he was forced to take a begging bowl to 50 of the biggest fundraising charities to finance the regulator

Stephen Dunmore
Stephen Dunmore

The new Fundraising Regulator was forced to "go around with a begging bowl" to find funding for its first six months of operation, according to Stephen Dunmore, its interim chief executive.

Speaking at the Honorary Treasurers Forum’s summer symposium in London yesterday, Dunmore said the regulator had not been able to obtain funding from the government, and instead relied on contributions from 45 of the 50 biggest fundraising charities, the ones that agreed to provide a contribution.

"The government didn’t offer us a loan or anything like that," he said. "It required us to go around with a begging bowl to the 50 charities and ask them to support us.

"It was not the favourite thing I had to do over the past six months, but as I have indicated it has given us the opportunity to build those relationships and take on board the views of the sector."

The new regulator will be launched officially tomorrow, with memorandums of understanding due to be signed with the Charity Commission, the Institute of Fundraising and the Information Commissioner. More details about how it will operate, including whether the regulator would cover Northern Ireland, would be confirmed in the next few months, Dunmore said.

He told the symposium that the Fundraising Preference Service was "full of unintended consequences" and the regulator was working on a "more nuanced version" of it that will be discussed at board a meeting next week and released as a discussion paper soon afterwards.

Dunmore said the service needed it to work without unduly impeding the right of charities to ask for funding and ensure donors were aware about what opting out entailed.

"This is not more regulation – this is improved, better and more engaged regulation," said Dunmore.

Also speaking at the symposium, Ed Aspel, executive director of fundraising and marketing at Cancer Research UK, said charities probably had a lot less to fear than expected from allowing supporters to opt in to communications from the charity.

"I’ve heard and seen a lot of the sector talking about the real impact on the sector, and I think they really are looking at the worst case, not the real case," Aspel said.

He denied that introducing opt-in would be too onerous for charities.

"I really struggle sometimes with where this extra work is coming from," Aspel said. "If you have them on your database and you think they are worth contacting, why are you not contacting them? If you are contacting them, then talk about opt-in. That’s what I find so strange about this."

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