New UK Fundraising Guidelines for Charity Trustees
14 June 2016 at 9:49 am
The UK Charity Commission has produced new guidelines for charity trustees about their role in fundraising from the public following a storm of public protest around trust and confidence in UK charities over the past 12 months.
“Trustees have a key role in overseeing their charity’s fundraising and ensuring it reflects their charity’s values,” chairman of the UK Charity Commission William Shawcross said.
“Many charities need to ask the public for money. They rely on public generosity – an enduring feature of our society, but one that can never be taken for granted.
“The commission emphasises the need for boards to have effective oversight over fundraising and focus on donor care, and has designed the new guidance to ensure trustees are confident and informed enough to challenge fundraising practices where necessary and safeguard their charity’s reputation.
“The new guidance is part of the commission’s response to some of the high-profile problems identified about the fundraising practice by some charities and agencies they had employed over the past year.”
The publication comes after the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) and the Etherington Report found that trustees were not providing appropriate oversight of their charities’ fundraising practices.
“Trustees have ultimate responsibility for fundraising and must ensure their charity complies with the law and follows best practice,” Shawcross said.
He said that whilst the advice was targeted at trustees and he reiterated the commission’s commitment to promoting good governance, the principles were useful for anyone involved in fundraising, including commercial participators and donors.
“It should strengthen relationships and promote transparency and effective communication between boards and fundraising staff, and ensure donors know what standards to expect from charities and fundraisers,” Shawcross said.
“The commission has been impressed by the recent response of charities to the challenges of the last year. Charity is a vital part of our national life and it is essential, for the reputation of all, that trustees take seriously their duty to protect the reputation of their charity. This guidance will help them in that mission.”
Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties (CC20) set out six key principles to help trustees comply with their legal duties when overseeing their charity’s fundraising, including:
- supervising fundraising, not simply delegating
- protecting the charity’s reputation and with regard to its values when making decisions about fundraising
- being transparent, including about any commercial relationships.
Advice was also included on effective planning, legal compliance and how to follow best practice. The guidance was revised in line with views collected from a comprehensive, three-month consultation process that allowed the public to provide feedback on a draft version of the new guidance.
The new guidance is part of a wider shake-up of charity regulation which is seeing the Charity Commission get new powers under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 and the reformed system for self-regulation of fundraising with the upcoming launch of the new fundraising regulator.
In May 2016, the UK Charity Commission began public consultations on new discretionary powers to disqualify charity trustees – powers the Australian regulator already has, but is yet to use.
The new powers would allow the UK commission to disqualify certain people from being trustees for a period of up to 15 years, in circumstances where they are judged not fit to act.
The rules are included in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 which will come into effect in July 2016 as part of the commission’s latest regulatory work.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) already has the power to suspend and remove board members of charities where the organisation is a “federally regulated entity”.
The ACNC said it had not yet used this power, however it had used other compliance powers, “such as the ability to issue a warning, enter into an enforceable undertaking and revoke charitable status”.
“This is a strong and invasive power and the ACNC would only consider doing so where there was serious misconduct and a real need to act to protect assets or beneficiaries. A consequence of the removal of a board member is that they are disqualified from acting in this capacity in another charity,” an ACNC spokesperson said.