A working group convened by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has recommended that the soon-to-be-abolished Fundraising Standards Board should not be replaced in Scotland and responsibility for fundraising should instead sit with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves.
The working group, which was established in December to decide how best to regulate fundraising north of the border and is chaired by Theresa Shearer, chief executive of Enable Scotland, is recommending that greater responsibility be placed on fundraising charities to self-regulate and that OSCR be given an "enhanced, ombudsman-style role".
The recommendation comes in a document published last week by the SCVO as part of a consultation it has launched to establish the views of charities on what the new system of fundraising regulation in Scotland should look like.
In the document, the group proposes three options for respondents to choose from: a UK-wide regulatory approach, a "hybrid" approach and its preferred option, which it refers to as the "Scottish regulatory approach".
The UK-wide option would involve Scotland adopting the model defined in the Etherington review, whereby the new London-based Fundraising Regulator would have the power to intervene when malpractice in Scotland is reported, as well as in the rest of the UK.
The hybrid option would involve a Scotland-specific fundraising regulator being created – either as a stand-alone body or a unit within a larger organisation – to regulate fundraising charities in Scotland. But the document says having two fundraising regulators would involve the most significant change of the options available, particularly for UK-wide charities.
The document says the working group concluded that the Scottish regulatory approach, also referred to as option three, was best aligned with the recommendations of the review of fundraising regulation the SCVO carried out last summer, the key messages from the fundraising summit it held last November and the group’s vision and principles.
This option would see the Code of Fundraising Practice, responsibility for which currently sits with the Institute of Fundraising, being handed over to a "democratic and accountable body" based on the IoF Scotland standards committee. Fraser Hudghton, national manager at IoF Scotland, is a member of the working group, as are two SCVO trustees – Shearer and Mark O’Donnell, chief executive of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland – and the SCVO’s director of public affairs, John Downie.
Stuart McCallum, fundraising manager of Falkirk’s Mental Health Association, said he was disappointed that the group had proposed the three options so soon after meeting for the first time in December.
Speaking in a personal capacity, he told Third Sector that the options were too narrow and seemed to focus on the needs of a few large UK-wide charities rather than the majority of charities in Scotland, which were Scotland-centric.
He said the group’s argument that having a separate fundraising regulator for Scotland would mean big changes for UK-wide charities was illogical because they already coped perfectly well with two regulators – the OSCR and the Charity Commission – overseeing the rest of their activities.
The working group says it will refine the options using feedback from the consultation in early April and the Scottish public will then be asked for their views. After this, the group will make recommendations to the SCVO’s trustees that, once approved, will be proposed to "key stakeholders".
The consultation also asks for charities to give their views on the Fundraising Preference Service, which is being designed by a committee within the UK’s Fundraising Regulator. It says the group plans to send the committee a report outlining the Scottish stance, which will be informed by this feedback.
The SCVO has previously called for Scotland to be given the power to allow full devolution of the regulation of fundraising. But it noted when it called for this – in its submission to the Smith Commission in 2014 – that some charities had an interest in maintaining UK-wide consistency for fundraising rules, in some cases to support cross-border fundraising.
The consultation runs until 31 March. Scottish charities can respond by completing a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SCVO_Fundraising_Consultation or sending a longer submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.