Regulator to launch review of the Code of Fundraising Practice

The Fundraising Regulator plans to review the Code of Fundraising Practice next year with a focus on digital and including raising money on platforms that are not charitable. 

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, discussed the organisation's ongoing priorities for regulation earlier today at an online conference run by Westminster Policy Forum.

Oppenheim said the regulator would begin a review of its fundraising code next year. 

“In 2019 we published a new version and we think three years on from that we should have a look at how the code is working and whether there are areas of it we need to change and improve," he said. 

“We're thinking about how we can try to reflect that [digital] through all the different parts of the code to remind people that if you're fundraising digitally, as opposed to face-to-face, there is still a need to ensure that you'll do the right thing.”

The regulator was asked about social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and their policies on facilitating fundraising across borders. 

Oppenheim reminded attendees of events going as far back as 2017 that included the terror attacks in London and Manchester and the Grenfell Tower fire.

He said: “Taken together, this led to a huge increase in individuals wanting to raise money to help the people affected by all of those events. What it showed was some of that fundraising, well intentioned as it was, through online giving platforms wasn't terribly well directed. 

“And what we did after that with the Charity Commission was get the leading platforms together and to encourage them to register voluntarily with us as commercial organisations.”

Oppenheim said there were plans over the next few months to get these leading platforms together again, before the code review, to see how that was working. 

“We find that the leading platforms that I mentioned are very committed to trying to make it as straightforward as possible,” he added.

Oppenheim said there were other issues that had been identified in charities and individuals using platforms in this way, such as online harms, and that the regulator was “watching very carefully what happens to the online space”.

He said: “It's a developing area that we will be looking at.”

In response to a question about the extent to which organisations were seeking to use the fundraising code to raise money through crowdfunding sites, social ventures and community interest companies, Oppenheim said: “It was a trend that had accelerated during the pandemic.

“We're starting to get more complaints from people who have made a contribution to a crowdfunder that isn't a charity. We do not regulate that, because it's not charitable. So there is a gap there.”

He said it was something that had already been raised with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and a subject he would continue to have a “more detailed conversation” on.

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