Standards are improving, says chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator

Stephen Dunmore tells a parliamentary grouping that he believes charity fundraising and data-protection practices in the sector are getting better

Stephen Dunmore
Stephen Dunmore

Standards of charity fundraising and data protection have improved in the past two years, Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, has said.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering, Dunmore said he believed data-sharing practices had stopped and large charities were committed to complying with data-protection regulation.

The Fundraising Regulator was launched in June last year in response to recommendations in the Etherington review of fundraising self-regulation, which was established after a series of scandals and negative headlines about fundraising in 2015.

But Dunmore said: "I think there has been a change in the culture since January 2016. We’ve come round a corner to where it’s not just about the money, but about the commitment to the fundraising code and excellence."

Last year and early this year, 13 charities were fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office in relation to practices such as data matching and wealth screening. Some were also fined for data-sharing breaches.

Dunmore said the 13 charities involved had "cooperated with us very willingly in putting new action plans in place. I don’t think data sharing is going on any longer, and I think most larger charities are very committed now to getting this right by 2018."

But he added that there was still some way to go and some charities might still have "historical hangover" data on their systems, which was shared several years ago.

Speaking at the same meeting, Peter Lewis, the chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said many small charities might need extra support to help them prepare for the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation, new data-protection rules due to come into force in May next year.

He acknowledged that some information was available, but said: "However clear the information is, it seems to be that because the Information Commissioner has been so clear that you have to comply, that extra bit of hand-holding is quite important."

He said many staff and trustees would be alarmed by the possibility of regulation and would need reassuring that they were implementing the guidance correctly.

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