Self-regulation of fundraising 'should get five years to improve'

Report by the Public Administration Select Committee concludes that public confidence has not yet risen to satisfactory levels

Face-to-face fundraising
Face-to-face fundraising

Self-regulation of fundraising by the charity sector has so far failed to generate the necessary level of public confidence, but should be given another five years to improve, according to a report by a House of Commons committee.

The Role of the Charity Commission and ‘Public Benefit’: Post-legislative Scrutiny of the Charities Act 2006, a report from the Public Administration Select Committee, says that "very significant levels of public concern about face-to-face fundraising, or ‘chugging’" currently exist.

"Many members of the public report that they feel pressured by chuggers, and businesses warn of the nuisance caused to their customers and obstruction on the streets," the report says. "It is clear that self-regulation has failed so far to generate the level of public confidence which is essential to the success of the system and the reputation of the charitable sector."

The report says there is a "compelling" case for statutory regulation of fundraising , but that this must be balanced against "significant cost, whether to the public purse, or to charities themselves".

"We recommend to the Cabinet Office that the self-regulation system remains in place but is placed on notice, as recommended by Lord Hodgson, with progress reviewed in five years’ time," the report says. "The self-regulatory bodies must act with urgency to increase membership of the Fundraising Standards Board, improve compliance with its code and strengthen public awareness of the complaints system.

"There should be no complacency from the charity sector about the need to rebuild public confidence in charity fundraising. Should statutory regulation become necessary, the cost should be borne by the charities themselves."

Colin Lloyd, chair of the FRSB, said in response to the report that the sector’s commitment to self-regulation was continuing to grow.

"Self-regulation is an opportunity for the sector to demonstrate its commitment to standards, to transparent and accountable fundraising and to building public trust," Lloyd said. "Charities and suppliers that have not joined are urged to do so."

Lloyd said the number of complaints about face-to-face fundraising was "relatively low", but all complaints should be taken seriously.

"The sector must listen carefully to any such feedback about their fundraising and address it, working hard to minimise future concerns," he said.

- See our Big Issue on the PASC report

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