Fundraising Regulator to have responsibility for Northern Ireland

The new body has been invited by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action after a long period of uncertaintly about who would be responsible

The Fundraising Regulator will oversee fundraising activity in Northern Ireland, it has announced.

The regulator said in a statement on Friday that it had been invited by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action to carry out the role after months of uncertainty about how fundraising regulation in Northern Ireland would work on a long-term basis.

The Fundraising Regulator, which was established last year as a result of the Etherington review of fundraising practice, already polices fundraising in England and Wales and has been fielding complaints about charities in Northern Ireland on an interim basis while a consultation on the long-term future of Northern Irish fundraising regulation was carried out.

A separate group, the Independent Fundraising Standards and Adjudication Panel for Scotland, oversees the Scottish fundraising sector after a working group concluded that the public would find a cross-border regulator too confusing.

But a working group and consultation by Nicva has reported that joining the Fundraising Regulator was the best option for voluntary fundraising in Northern Ireland, according to Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of Nicva.

The regulator is expected to appoint a dedicated board member for Northern Ireland through an open recruitment process.

A statement about the consultation on the Nicva website said most people who participated had preferred the option of joining the Fundraising Regulator and there was no clear mandate for establishing a specific regulator for the area.

"The Fundraising Regulator will provide confidence to the public by investigating any complaints anyone might have about any charitable organisation’s fund raising practice," said McAleavey. "It will also encourage and advise on best practice.

"Dealing properly with any complaints will protect the public and the long-term reputation of charities."

Respondents to the consultation also commented on the importance of the regulator developing good connections and relationships through organisations such as Nicva, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, to ensure that Northern Ireland did not "get lost as a ‘small fish in a big pond’" and that its landscape and legislation were understood.

The working group, along with McAleavey and CCNI chief executive Frances McCandless, met Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, and Gerald Oppenheim, its head of policy, on 31 May to discuss how Northern Irish charities would be represented and how they could be encouraged to join, according to the Nicva website.

In a statement, Dunmore pledged to work closely with the existing bodies in Northern Ireland and said the open competition to appoint the Northern Irish board member would begin shortly.

Tom McGrath, chief commissioner at the CCNI, said: "We encourage charities to sign up to this important system of self-regulation so that the public in Northern Ireland know where to go if they encounter a problem and charities themselves can access guidance and good practice on fundraising standards.

"It is important for public trust and confidence in charities that funds are properly raised and complaints can be dealt with in a way that is straightforward and easy for the public to use."

Neil Irwin, chair of the IoF’s Northern Ireland Committee, said: "The IoF in Northern Ireland will always work with our members to build high standards and support best practice.

"We are committed to working with charities, the Fundraising Regulator and other sector bodies to raise awareness of the code and regulatory system, and to ensure that fundraisers are able to adapt quickly and easily to any changing regulatory structures."

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