Public will be consulted on major changes to fundraising code, says Suzanne McCarthy

The chair of the Fundraising Regulator's standards committee says it has no intention of making radical changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice in the short term

Suzanne McCarthy
Suzanne McCarthy

The public will in future be consulted before any major changes are made to the Code of Fundraising Practice, the chair of the body that will decide on fundraising standards has said.

Suzanne McCarthy, chair of the Fundraising Regulator’s standards committee, said at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention in London yesterday that, before making significant changes to the code, the committee would hold public consultations that would be widely advertised and last several weeks.

"The way the code changes will take place will be different from what you’re used to," she told delegates. "The code was part of a membership association, at the institute. It’s not now, and there will be more public consultations.

"If they receive a large number of responses, we will work through them and give our conclusions. And once the recommendations have been made by the standards committee, they will go to the board to decide whether the code should be changed."

The code of practice officially passes to McCarthy’s committee on Thursday, when the regulator is launched.

McCarthy, who was previously chair of the IoF’s own standards committee and was the IoF’s preferred choice to take on her new equivalent role, said that the IoF had been awarded observer status on the committee.

"It will be the only permanent observer on the committee," she said. She added that there were more lay people than charity representatives on the committee. "I’m hopeful that will reassure you and the wider donors that we are a committee that is independent."

McCarthy said changes that the new committee planned to consider included an amendment to reflect the new CC20 fundraising guidance released by the Charity Commission last month and a number of rules requeste by the Fundraising Standards Board, including imposing a two-ask limit on fundraising calls and requiring solicitation statements to be delivered before a potential supporter supplies their bank details.

She said the committee would also look at what the written agreements between charities and third-party fundraising agencies stipulated in the Charities Act should consist of and include some rules relating to the new Fundraising Preference Service.

But McCarthy said the committee had no intention of making radical changes to the code in the short term.

"That was done a couple of years ago," she said. "We don’t need to do it. I know that Sir Stuart Etherington mentioned it in his report, but conversations with him and others later have shown that it’s not necessary at the moment."

She said that in addition to holding public consultations, the committee was considering having a committee equivalent to the Advertising Standards Authority’s Committee of Advertising Practice, to which consumers could offer feedback on public attitudes. Other options for doing this included an advisory panel, focus groups, surveys and collaborating with the Commission on the Donor Experience, she said.

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