The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is to change its name to the Public Fundraising Association in order to provide greater clarity to the sector and the public about what it does.
But the membership body, which works with charities and agencies that carry out street and doorstep direct debit fundraising, will continue to use the abbreviation PFRA despite dropping the word regulatory from its full name.
The acronym PFA is already used by the Professional Footballers’ Association. The PFRA said that PFRA was a "strong and widely recognised" brand among the body’s membership, its stakeholders and the public.
The move comes after the review of fundraising self-regulation, carried out last year by the professional services company PwC, found that the body was seen as more of an "access-to-business provider" for agencies than as a regulator. PwC said this damaged its credibility as a regulator and it should drop the word regulatory from its name.
PwC said another option would be for the PFRA’s regulatory activity to be moved to the Fundraising Standards Board, with the PFRA becoming more of a trade body that would work with the IoF to advocate for face-to-face.
The PFRA said in a statement today that after the name change came into effect on 1 September the organisation would continue to carry out the same functions as before.
In his review of the Charities Act 2006, the Conservative peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said there was "an immediate need to resolve the current confusion about the different roles and responsibilities of the three bodies involved in the self-regulatory system – the Institute of Fundraising, the Fundraising Standards Board and the PFRA".
Paul Stallard, chair of the PFRA, told Third Sector: "It was raised by Lord Hodgson and PwC that changing our name would help to make our role and responsibilities clearer, and we said at the time that we would do it – and we have done it.
"And we agree with it: it isn’t something we have particularly pushed for, but when it was drawn to our attention we thought it was fine."
The PFRA’s regulatory activity includes carrying out mystery shopping visits to members – a contracted agent pretends to be a member of the public signing up for a donation. Members who are found to have breached the PFRA Rule Book or the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of Fundraising Practice can be fined.
Asked if the name change could cause confusion among organisations that see the PFRA still carrying out this regulatory activity, Stallard said mystery shopping should be viewed as compliance activity rather than regulation.
He said the organisations – the PFRA and the IoF – that checked to see if a charity was abiding by the Code of Fundraising Practice were carrying out compliance, whereas the FRSB investigated issues in the sector that were brought to its attention, which constituted regulation.
Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive of the PFRA, said in a statement: "By dropping ‘regulatory’ from our name, our aim is to ensure there is no room for confusion about who we are, who we represent or what we do.
"During our consultation with both charities and agencies, it became increasingly clear that compliance is something our members want delivered jointly by ourselves and the IoF, with regulation overseen separately by an effective and truly independent body," he said. "This name change provides a step in the right direction toward some much needed clarity."