Fundraising Regulator plans changes to guidance for online fundraising platforms

In a three-part consultation launched today, the regulator says they would have to explain their charges clearly and offer guidance to those who set up fundraising pages

Online fundraising platforms would have to clearly explain their charges and offer guidance to people who set up fundraising pages under proposed changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice, published for consultation by the Fundraising Regulator.

Through the three-part consultation, launched today, the regulator is also seeking the sector’s views on changes to the code’s requirements for complaints handling and the Telephone Preference Service.

Part A of the consultation focuses on the section of the code dealing with complaints and concerns, which says any complaints must be dealt with in a timely, respectful, open and honest way.

The regulator has proposed to remove this wording and replace it with a more specific explanation, which it says in the consultation document it hopes will remove "the unhelpful and emotive implication that, when not responding to complaints fully, organisations have been intentionally dishonest".

Part B suggests removing the requirement for telephone fundraising agencies to have up-to-date, TPS-assured certification or be in the process of applying for it, which the regulator says smaller organisations have complained imposes disproportionate resource demands on them.

Instead, it proposes to include a paragraph making it clear that it is important for organisations to audit their compliance with the legal requirements for the TPS and signposts TPS Assured Certification as one way of doing that.

The deadline for responses to both parts A and B is 28 February.

Part C proposes adding a new section to the code to deal with online fundraising platforms, which the regulator said in a statement had come as the result of meetings between the regulator, online platforms and the Financial Conduct Authority.

The proposed new section says the platforms must explain how they take their payment from fundraising appeals and give an idea of how much it is likely to be per donation.

It would also require platforms to provide good practice advice to people who set up fundraising pages to ensure they understand their responsibilities and have considered whether their appeal should be registered as a charity in its own right.

The regulator’s statement said: "A key concern of the regulator is to provide clear advice on whether a charitable trust is established when an individual creates an online fundraising page."

It said the regulator would check during the consultation whether any differences in the law on trusts existed between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Part C of the consultation closes on 14 March.

Suzanne McCarthy, chair of the regulator’s standards committee, said: "The proposed changes reflect the regulator's efforts in listening and responding to both the needs of fundraisers and those of the public when making donations via online fundraising platforms.

"The sector, the FCA and the Fundraising Regulator all appreciate the importance of maintaining standards in this area, which is necessary for maintaining public confidence."

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