At its annual meeting, in March 2022 the Fundraising Regulator launched a new self-reporting tool, which will allow organisations to self-report fundraising incidents where there may have been a breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice to the Fundraising Regulator.
The introduction of the self-reporting tool comes at the same time as the Fundraising Regulator has announced that it will be taking a more proactive approach to regulation. The intended purpose of the self-reporting tool is to help the Fundraising Regulator to better protect the public and promote good fundraising practice.
So, what does the Fundraising Regulator expect organisations to report?
The Fundraising Regulator has helpfully provided guidance on what it expects organisations to report and this covers incidents:
- relating to charitable fundraising;
- where there has been, or may have been, a breach of the Code; and
- where the breach(es) pose an actual or potential risk to the public, the charity sector, or public confidence in fundraising more generally.
The Fundraising Regulator has stressed that it doesn’t expect charities to report every time an organisation receives a compliant about charitable fundraising.
The Fundraising Regulator’s guidance gives two examples of previous incidents that have been self-reported, however, it is still unclear what exactly the Fundraising Regulator expects charities to self-report, and charities are left with an un-enviable task of trying to work this out. We hope to see further guidance from the Fundraising Regulator clarifying this as the tool develops.
Who can use the self-reporting tool?
The self-reporting tool is for organisations to report incidents relating to charitable fundraising. Those who do report must have authority from the trustees or senior management of the organisation to report the matter.
Individuals who are raising concerns, members of the public or whistleblowing should still use the existing complaints form.
Do I have to report to the Fundraising Regulator?
Unlike for serious incident reports to the Charity Commission, there is no obligation to report incidents to the Fundraising Regulator, and this is a voluntary process. At this stage the Charity Commission has not commented that it expects charities to make reports, so many charities may decide not to.
Why report to the Fundraising Regulator?
In its recent blog post about the self-reporting pathway the Fundraising Regulator encouraged charities to self-report so that the Fundraising Regulator can work with those organisations to help put things right. More broadly, the Fundraising Regulator also encouraged charities to report so that it can get a broader understanding of issues in the sector and provide tailored guidance.
When an organisation self-reports, a caseworker will assess the information provided and if appropriate, signpost the organisation to further guidance or give advice. At this stage, it’s unclear how quickly support from the Fundraising Regulator will be given and the level of engagement that will be expected from the organisations making a report.
Whilst the Fundraising Regulator has provided assurance that its aim of the self-reporting tool is to support organisations and provide guidance to the sector, it has noted that in some circumstances it may need to open a formal investigation as a result of a self-report.
It is worth noting that charities that are subject to formal investigation from the Fundraising Regulator will also need to make a serious incident report to the Charity Commission.
Charities should continue to take measures to rectify any possible breach of the code. In situations where an organisation does self-report, the self-reporting form will ask charities for information on any steps they have already taken to rectify any possible breach of the code. If you’re not sure whether your organisation should self-report, or you want some further support with self-reporting please contact Hannah Lyons, or your usual Bates Wells contact.