Fundraising Regulator publishes final version of updated code of practice

It says the revision, which comes into effect in October, contains no new rules or standards, but is simpler and easier to understand than the existing version

The revised code
The revised code

The Fundraising Regulator has published the final version of the updated Code of Fundraising Practice, which will come into effect in October.

The 117-page code, published today, sets out the responsibilities that apply to all fundraising carried out by charities and third-party fundraisers, including agencies.

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the regulator, told Third Sector that the new version contained "no new rules and no new standards", but was simpler and easier to understand.

"We are pleased with the level of support we have received, not only from bodies such as the Institute of Fundraising and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, but also from those who attended the consultation meetings we held in all four countries," he said.

"There has been absolute support for the principle of rewriting it.

"Looking ahead, we will move to a system where we update the code on an annual basis unless there is a legal imperative that requires us to do so straight away. Otherwise we could get into an endless cycle of consultation."

The regulator assumed responsibility for the code from the Institute of Fundraising in 2016.

It produced a draft version of the new code in September, which underwent a nine-week consultation that produced 114 responses.

The final version has been checked by lawyers covering the different legal systems in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and has been reviewed by the Plain English campaign.

Oppenheim said it would be difficult to gauge the cost of the exercise.

According to the consultation report, 89 per cent of respondents agreed with the new approach and felt the existing code was unnecessarily complex and impenetrable.

But the document says a "minority of respondents did not agree with the focus of the consultation on the code’s accessibility on the grounds that there was a more pressing need for a review of the substance of the standards".

It adds that some also wanted a follow-up consultation on the revised version.

A spokesman for the Institute of Fundraising said it was always going to be difficult rewriting such a large document, but the new version was "better and more accessible".

He said it might take experienced fundraisers, who are more familiar with the existing code, longer to get used to the change. The IoF would, he said, be keeping an eye on whether simplifying the language had inadvertently changed the standards, but "there was nothing at first glance".

Sam Boyle, policy and information officer at the IoF, blogged today: "Once fundraisers have looked through the new version and spent a bit of time getting used to the new format and language, most will agree that the changes are positive."

Ian MacQuillin, director of the think tank Rogare, welcomed the new version and said the language and sign-posting of the final version were clear, as was the guidance on data protection.

"Hopefully, this will avoid some of the knicker-twisting that fundraisers get themselves into when thinking about consent and legitimate interest," said MacQuillin.

But he said he was surprised there weren't sections on major donors or corporate fundraising and he would have preferred "a more visible definition of ‘professional fundraiser’".

He added: "This is because lay people reading it are likely to assume that ‘professional fundraiser’ refers to an individual, for example a ‘chugger’ or telephone fundraiser, rather than a corporate body."

Suzanne McCarthy, chair of the regulator’s standards committee, said in a statement: "We have listened to the sector and have developed a code that can be used confidently and with ease to help charities in meeting their responsibilities to the public."

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