Institute of Fundraising: Good news for fundraising with the new Scotland Bill

Andrew Watt, head of policy and standards and the deputy chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill, introduced into the Scottish Parliament on Monday 15 November, will now undergo a period of pre-legislative scrutiny. But, what - in a nutshell - does this mean for fundraisers north and south of the border?

In many ways, the new Bill will ensure that Scottish charity law - particularly in relation to fundraising - will develop along similar lines to English and Welsh charity law. Commercial participators and professional fundraisers will have to have a contract with charities.

Professional fundraisers will have to make a statement regarding their remuneration, and commercial participators will have to state how much money will go to the cause. This is all part of protecting the charity 'brand', a key concern that is reflected within the new Bill.

The Scottish Executive declares that '21st century charity fundraising is big business' in recent papers published alongside the Bill. The Executive's commitment to the Bill is excellent news for charities across Scotland.

This Bill establishes the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) as the charity regulator in Scotland, with powers similar to that of the Charity Commission in England. New fundraising regulations will certainly improve the current system of public benevolent collections and give charities the power to stop unauthorised fundraising in their name.

The Scottish Executive also supports, in principle, a self-regulatory scheme for fundraising, recognising that fundraising organisations should be given the chance to set best practice standards for themselves.

However, this Bill does not just impact on charities in Scotland. The OSCR will be working to ensure that they are aware of any charity that is conducting significant charitable activity in Scotland. This means that any charity occupying land or premises in Scotland, or carrying out activities in Scottish offices or shops will have to register with the OSCR.

If a charity is advertising in a newspaper, or offering grants, then registration with the OSCR will not be necessary but charities will have to state 'registered in England and Wales' or 'recognised as a charity by the Inland Revenue' if they are based in Northern Ireland, on promotional literature.

It is expected that if a charity is registered with both the Charity Commission and the OSCR then separate accounts will not be needed, but it is important that charities on both sides of the border consider potential cross-border problems.

And, as for the Institute, we will continue to work with the legislative process to support the development of the Bill. It is expected that it will be officially passed next year.

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