New watchdog should have Scottish remit, Stephen Dunmore tells Fundraising Week

The interim chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator says it's up to Scotland to choose its own system of regulation, but he believes the new body should have a UK-wide responsibility

Stephen Dunmore
Stephen Dunmore

The new Fundraising Regulator should have the remit to regulate in Scotland as well as in England and Wales, Stephen Dunmore, interim chief executive of the new body, said at Fundraising Week today.

During his keynote speech at Third Sector’s annual fundraising conference in London this morning, Dunmore said that although it was up to Scotland to choose its own system of fundraising regulation, he had made it very clear to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Scottish government and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator that the new, London-based Fundraising Regulator should have a UK-wide remit.

"That prescription makes sense because you have donors in Scotland who donate across the borders and charities that work across borders as well," he said.

He referred to the consultation paper published by the SCVO in February, which recommended that the soon to be abolished Fundraising Standards Board should not be replaced in Scotland and that responsibility for fundraising should instead sit with the OSCR and charities themselves.

Dunmore described the paper as "slanted in one direction". He said: "We’ll have to see what the outcome is. There’s a lot of politics involved."

Dunmore said that the new regulator, which will be funded by a levy on charities, will have an annual budget of £2.5m.

This would come to about £1,250 per organisation if it was applied in the form of a levy across the approximately 2,000 charities that spend more than £100,000 a year on fundraising, which was how the Etherington review recommended the regulator be funded.

Dunmore said he was also considering taking into account charities’ voluntary income and overall turnover when deciding which ones should pay.

He said he wanted to vary the size of the levy depending on such factors.

Speaking from the audience, Jo Tripp, database manager at the MS Trust, said it seemed many of the charities that would be asked to pay did not use fundraising agencies. She said a big reason the new regulator was needed was the existence of such relationships.

Dunmore replied: "I don’t think I need to justify the need for a stronger and better-resourced regulator."

He said the new regulator would be four times better resourced than the Fundraising Standards Board, with between 15 and 20 employees, compared with the FRSB’s five or six.

Dunmore said the regulator was currently chasing up a "few stragglers" for their contribution to the body’s set-up costs. He wrote to the top 50 fundraising charities in February asking for a contribution of £15,000 per organisation towards these.

Third Sector understands that about 40 charities had so far agreed to pay this amount, but Dunmore declined to confirm this figure.

Dunmore said he planned to hold a consultation in late May on the form the Fundraising Preference Service will take. The regulator already plans to begin a consultation next month to gauge the sector’s opinion of its levy and registration system.

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