Good governance key to establishing trust in fundraising

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published its report ‘The 2015 charity fundraising controversy: lessons for trustees, the Charity Commission, and regulators’.

This follows the inquiry it undertook into fundraising in the charitable sector.

“The report warns that the Etherington proposals represent the “last chance” for self-regulation of charity fundraising. The Committee says if the trustees in the sector fail to put their house in order, statutory regulation must follow.”

Their news item is ‘Trustees of charities must fulfil their responsibilities‘, with links to the report in web (html) and pdf formats.

The Guardian’s coverage is titled ‘Charities with dubious fundraising methods are on last chance’, and Civil Society News leads in a similar fashion. However, the latter also highlights the committee’s statement that “We are not persuaded of the case for a new fundraising telephone preference service”.

The committee however concluded that the Etherington review proposals do not go far enough and recommends that the Charity Commission should be “responsible for holding the new (fundraising) regulator to account  … rather than the government resorting to its statutory powers”, with suitable amendments to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill. The Bill reaches its final House of Commons stages on 26th January.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, has responded

“.. it is important that we do not lose sight of the principle of self-regulation in fundraising on which everyone is agreed. I am not persuaded for this reason that it is appropriate for the Fundraising Regulator to report to a government body.”

See the full statement on NCVO’s website.

UPDATE Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Commons committee, has an article on The Guardian’s Voluntary Sector Network: ‘Charity trustees are to blame for the fundraising scandal‘.

Charity governance is key

NCVO’s director of public policy writes further, in a piece headed ‘Governance, governance, governance‘. The key question “is not how do we sort out fundraising but how do we ensure that our governance is as robust and effective as it should be”.

He concludes that while there is a problem to be tackled, it is not a crisis. “Many charities continue to be well governed. Many actively manage their governance process. And it’s no accident that NCVO’s bestselling publication (by far) is the Good Trustee Guide. But there is clearly a debate to be had and work to be done as charity governance will dominate the headlines for much of this year I reckon.”

UPDATE: a Civil Society News opinion piece on this subject overlaps a little with the above but is also worth a read.

Data swapping

The Institute of Fundraising meanwhile has made a statement on one of the vexed issues on fundraising practices, around data swapping between charities (and commercial agencies).

A spokesman for the IoF told Civil Society News that “an agreement has been made in regards to data swapping” but is considering timing issues, with particular regard to  the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is also working on changes to its data sharing code of practice.

Further reading

See our previous coverage of the proposed changes to fundraising self-regulation.

Official pages on the progress of the charity legislation (applies to England and Wales).