STRATEGY UNIT REPORT: Watchdog to regulate work of fundraisers

Fundraisers have welcomed the Strategy Unit's proposal to set up an independent body to regulate fundraising but say that it should be government-funded.

The proposal is for a new body made up of fundraisers, laypersons and government representatives. It would initially be paid for by seed-corn funding from the government, but later by a levy on fundraising income.

"This would be a grossly inappropriate way to fund a watchdog body,

said Adrian Sargeant, chair of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Management at Henley Management College. "The public already think far less of their pound goes to charity than it actually does. If part of their pound goes towards this watchdog, it might depress giving levels."

The new body would be similar to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). But where the ASA is purely self-regulating, the presence of lay people and government on the proposed body makes a good case for government subsidy, said Andrew Watt, policy head at the Institute of Fundraising.

Over the next three months, the institute hopes to help ensure that the sector "retains control of the standards over which it is judged", said Watt. "We've got some good codes of practice already - a regulator (to enforce them) is exactly what's needed,

he added.

The cost of running the new body is still unclear since it would depend on what model of enforcement the government envisaged, said Watt. "If they want mystery shopping and an ombudsman then it's going to cost more,

he said.

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