Fundraising Regulator consultation on the Code of Fundraising Practice

As you will know in July 2016 the Fundraising Regulator (the “Regulator”) took over from the Fundraising Standards Board, with the objective of “protecting donors to charities based in England and Wales”. In doing so, it assumed responsibility for the Code of Fundraising Practice, which was initially developed by the Institute of Fundraising.


This month the Regulator opened a consultation on some suggested changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice, which are not intended to be a “root and branch” overhaul, but rather to focus on “current issues and concerns” such as fundraising communications, the delivery of charity collection bags and how charities oversee their third-party contracts. Data and consent are not covered by this consultation – see the separate section on Data and consent below where we summarise the latest on this.

The full consultation document can be found here.

The following is an overview of the proposed changes and questions:

  • Charity trustees:The Regulator intends to incorporate into the code the principles of trustee oversight from the Charity Commission’s CC20 guidance by citing the guidance and listing its principles. Comments are invited on the clarity of the wording in this section
  • The fundraising ask: The Regulator proposes to amend the rule which restricts the number of times fundraisers may ask for a donation in a telephone call (the limit is three times). Rather than applying to all “donations”, which would include donating time or signing a petition, this rule would instead apply only to “financial contributions”. Extra clarification will also be added, in line with the rules for other methods of fundraising, to the effect that fundraisers must not continue to ask an individual for support if the individual has clearly indicated that they do not wish to continue to engage. Comments are invited on the usefulness of the three ask limit, whether the focus should be narrowed to financial asks and how clear the code is about the stage at which behaviour becomes inappropriate.
  • Solicitation (disclosure) statements: The Regulator intends to state explicitly in the code that a solicitation statement by a professional fundraiser must be made before the individual makes a commitment to donate, i.e. before money is handed over or financial details are provided for a direct debit. Comments are invited on whether the new rule will make it clearer to donors who is soliciting the donation and that the person seeking a donation is a professional fundraiser.
  • Raising concerns about fundraising practice (whistleblowing): The Regulator proposes that fundraising organisations should be required to publicise their whistleblowing policy to staff and volunteers, and suggests new wording which prescribes the content of such policies. Comments are invited on the need for an internal whistleblowing procedure, the need for such a requirement to appear in the code and whether the prescribed contents of whistleblowing policies are clear.
  • People in vulnerable circumstances: The Regulator has not put forward any amendments to the code in relation to vulnerable people, but has invited comments on whether the existing wording is clear enough and whether it does enough to protect those in vulnerable circumstances.
  • Charity collection bags: The Regulator proposes to extend the rules restricting the houses that can be visited by fundraisers, so that collection bags can no longer be delivered to houses which display stickers stating “no charity bags” or “no junk mail”. Comments are invited on whether this rule will adequately deal with the issue of unwanted charity collection bags.
  • Third parties:
    • Reasonable efforts in monitoring compliance: The Regulator has provided a proposed definition of “reasonableness”, in relation to the requirement to make “reasonable efforts” to ensure third parties are complying with the code. The new wording also outlines how an organisation might evidence that reasonable efforts have been made. Examples include adequate policies, allocating responsibility, training and monitoring.
    • Fundraising agreements: The Regulator has also suggested additional wording in relation to ensuring third party compliance through fundraising agreements. This wording refers back to the examples of how to evidence “reasonable efforts” (as discussed above) and also obliges charities to ensure that they have the right to view third parties’ policies, training materials and staff codes of conduct.
    • Comments are invited on whether the new definition is clear enough, and whether any further detail should be included to adequately reflect the new requirements of the Charities Act 2016 in relation to third party contracts.
  • General questions: Finally, the Regulator has called for any comments on how easy the code is to understand, any areas in which it could be generally improved, any issues which are not adequately covered and any sections which should be removed or amended.

The deadline for submitting responses to the consultation is Friday 28 April 2017. BWB will be responding and we would value your input, so if you have any comments please email them to Christine Rigby or Hannah Lyons.

Fundraising, data and consent

Many of you will have attended the BWB seminars in January where we looked at what next for charities after the Information Commissioner’s Office financial penalties for two charities.  There are further developments in the coming weeks and months to look out for:

  • On Tuesday next week, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are jointly holding a one-day conference.   The Fundraising Regulator will be launching its guidance on consent and the main presentations by each of the three conference hosts will be live streamed on the ICO website.
  • Our understanding is that, later this year, the Fundraising Regulator will consult on changes to the Fundraising Code around data and consent.  This will be after guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is released. 

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of February 17, 2017.