Northern Ireland 'likely to come under Fundraising Regulator's remit'

Head of policy Gerald Oppenheim is understood to have told a conference it would be regulated by the same body as England and Wales

Northern Ireland: who will regulate fundraising?
Northern Ireland: who will regulate fundraising?

The Fundraising Regulator believes it is likely that Northern Ireland will come under its remit later in the year, Third Sector understands.

It is understood that Gerald Oppenheim, head of policy at the regulator, told a conference in London last week that he was confident Northern Ireland would be regulated by the same body as in England and Wales.

A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator declined to give further details when asked about Oppenheim’s comments.

"We expect a decision will be taken in Northern Ireland on whether to join the Fundraising Regulator later in 2016," the spokesman said.

Earlier this month the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action launched a consultation seeking views from sector professionals on the question.

Lynn Kennedy, fundraising advice officer at Nicva, told Third Sector it was too early to know what sector professionals in Northern Ireland wanted from their fundraising regulation – which was previously handled by the Fundraising Standards Board – and that Nicva did not yet have a position on the matter.

Kennedy said she was unsure whether she agreed with Oppenheim’s prediction.

The comments come after a working group convened by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations concluded earlier this month that the Fundraising Regulator should have no jurisdiction in Scotland.

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the regulator, had previously said that Scotland should be regulated by the body, as well as England and Wales, which drew criticism at the time from the Scottish working group’s chair.

Nicva plans to hold a consultation event on 9 September to give the sector a chance to air its views on the options for regulating fundraising in Northern Ireland. It is also inviting written responses. Kennedy said that once these had been received a working group would be set up to decide on a way forward.

The three options being considered are an equivalent to those previously considered in Scotland: for Northern Ireland to join with the new Fundraising Regulator for England and Wales; a separate regulator; or an enhanced role for the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, to include fundraising regulation.

Nicva says on its website that the disadvantage of joining with the London-based regulator is that it would be a "one-size-fits-all approach" and charities might want something more specific for Northern Ireland.

It says it is unclear how much influence the nation would have on the regulator.

But it also highlights the negatives of the other two options, saying that if Northern Ireland opted to enhance the role of the CCNI – the equivalent model to that adopted in Scotland – it might be seen as "opting out" of fundraising standards.

In a blog published earlier this month, Neil Irwin, chair of the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland, said the FRSB had been encouraging its members to be regulated by the Fundraising Regulator, which took over its responsibilities on 7 July. But he said legislation passed in England that led to the creation of the Fundraising Regulator did not apply in Northern Ireland so joining the regulator would be a "voluntary decision" for charities there.

Charities in Northern Ireland that would like to take part in Nicva’s consultation should send their responses to by 30 September.

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