A former chair of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is to lead a new independent panel that will set fundraising standards and adjudicate on fundraising complaints about charities registered in Scotland.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the SCVO announced that Alison Elliot, who is the associate director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Edinburgh and served as convener of the SCVO (the equivalent of its chair of trustees) from 2007 to 2013, will lead the panel, the creation of which was first announced in a report published in June by an SCVO working group.
Valerie Surgenor, a partner specialising in charities at the law firm MacRoberts, who chairs the Fundraising Implementation Group, which has been putting the report’s recommendations into practice, will also sit on the panel.
As part of the announcement, Jude Turbyne, head of engagement at the OSCR, said the panel would play a key role in ensuring that charities both complied with the fundraising code and worked to ensure high standards in terms of their complaints-handing and fundraising practices.
She said the OSCR would support the panel by providing a secretariat function.
Surgenor said: "The creation of an independent panel to oversee and promote better fundraising practice, and to adjudicate on matters where such practice isn’t implemented, is an exciting new development for charities and donors in Scotland. It provides a system of enhanced self-regulation that fits those requirements identified by the working party."
The other members of the panel are: Jay Butler, trustee of the SCVO; Ann-Marie Devlin, chair of the IoF Scotland standards committee and head of fundraising at the deafblind charity Sense Scotland; Michelle Armstrong, corporate and community fundraising manager at Cancer Research UK; Sheila Logan, a data protection adviser and trainer; Cathy Bell, director of development and alumni at Glasgow University; and Paul Drury, director of income generation and development at the homelessness charity the Bethany Christian Trust.
Surgenor said a "fundraising guarantee" would be created to specify how the public could expect to be treated by fundraisers, as recommended in the SCVO working group’s report in June.
The report said the guarantee would be a public-facing document that would differ from the Code of Fundraising Practice and face-to-face fundraising rule books because the last two detailed duties and responsibilities and were the basis on which regulation would be performed, whereas the guarantee would be more about "values, culture and practices".
"The guarantee will also provide a basis for regulation where the code is not explicit on responsibilities, perhaps due to a new method of fundraising being created," the report recommended.
The Institute of Fundraising welcomed the news and said it would be looking to establish a memorandum of understanding with the panel "so that it can work closely with it to ensure the experience and expertise of its members in Scotland are fully shared and considered".
In a statement, the IoF said it planned to set up its own standards advisory board for Scotland to respond to any proposed changes in regulation in Scotland and ensure the views of its Scottish members were taken on board.