Revised Code of Fundraising Practice

Following a consultation towards the end of last year, the Fundraising Regulator has now published a revised Code of Fundraising Practice, which comes into force in October 2019. The Fundraising Regulator has not specified the exact date on which the new Code comes into effect, but we would advise charities to assume that this will be from 1 October 2019 (although we expect the regulator to make further announcements in this regard).


The revised Code is the result of a “plain English” review by the regulator, to make the Code more accessible. The new Code also incorporates standards relating to public collections that previously appeared in separate Rule Books, meaning that all of the relevant standards can now be found in one place.

For those who are familiar with the current Code, the new Code will appear quite different. However, the Fundraising Regulator has been clear that this update is intended to improve terminology and not to make substantive changes to fundraising standards. The content of the Code should not therefore have changed. We are pleased to see that the Fundraising Regulator took on board a number of the suggestions we made in our response to the consultation, including flagging some inadvertent Code changes we had noticed.

This overhaul of the Code was an enormous task and we think it is only to be expected that there may be some teething problems as charities (and the Fundraising Regulator itself) learn to navigate their way round the new provisions. If you come across any potential differences between the current Code and the new Code, we know that the Institute of Fundraising is keen to collect examples of potential Code changes and inconsistencies, which it intends to share with the Fundraising Regulator, and you can notify these to [email protected]. If the provision in question is directly relevant to your organisation’s fundraising activities, we recommend notifying the issue to the Fundraising Regulator and asking for clarification. In any event, the Fundraising Regulator has expressly stated that when considering complaints against an organisation, it will use the version of the Code that was in force at the time of the incident complained about.

In the time between now and October, we recommend fundraising teams familiarise themselves with the new Code, particularly with provisions most relevant to the type of fundraising undertaken by the charity. Charities may also need to update policies, contracts and other documents that cross refer to existing Code provisions. We are in communication with the Institute of Fundraising as to whether it or the Fundraising Regulator will be producing a destinations table which signposts where current Code provisions now sit in the new Code, as this would help charities with their updating. We have been told by the Institute of Fundraising that the intention is to develop some supporting resources over the next few months.

Fundraising Regulator Investigations

The June 2019 newsletter from the Fundraising Regulator includes some new information about its investigations process which we recommend you draw to the attention of your Chair of trustees and executive team:

  • On opening the investigation, the Fundraising Regulator will send a letter to the charity’s executive team and Chair of Trustees to request information; and
  • When the Fundraising Regulator shares its final decision, it will contact the Chair of Trustees to make sure the recommendations are acted on by the charity.

We think it’s useful for Chairs to know in advance that such correspondence is now standard. It will obviously vary for different charities and different types of complaint the extent to which the Chair, other trustees or the executive team need to be involved with the day to day handling of a Fundraising Regulator investigation. It is worth remembering as well that the notification of a Fundraising Regulator investigation is a serious incident which should be notified to the Charity Commission.

The Fundraising Regulator has also given advance warning that in September it will publish details of complaints investigated since it took the policy decision earlier this year to name all charities it investigates.

If you have any queries on your charity’s compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice (current or new), or in relation to Fundraising Regulator Investigations, please get in touch with your usual Bates Wells contact, or feel free to contact Hannah or Molly directly, and we’d be happy to assist.

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 June 20, 2019.