New FIA Code Measures to Protect Vulnerable People
22 November 2017 at 3:36 pm
National fundraising peak body, the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) has introduced measures in its new code of conduct to protect people in vulnerable circumstances.
The code says: “Members will not accept a donation where they have a reasonable belief that the donor is in vulnerable circumstances or lacks capacity to make a decision to donate.”
FIA CEO Rob Edwards said it was better to tackle these issues as a sector.
“As our population ages and more people with disabilities are enabled by modern medicine to live at home rather than in healthcare facilities, a greater onus is placed on fundraisers to demonstrate care and sensitivity in contacting them,” Edwards said.
“It is far better for us to be tackling these issues as a sector and pursuing effective self-regulatory solutions rather than waiting for a regulator to intervene.”
In October the FIA announced a new independent authority had been established to help raise the bar for fundraisers around best practice and ethical conduct, chaired by a former ALP senator Dr Ursula Stephens.
FIA has also introduced a Practice Note as well as web-based training to help members identify and respond appropriately when a donor appears to be in vulnerable circumstances.
The Practice Note contains information on identifying and managing people in vulnerable circumstances encountered during fundraising activity.
The FIA’s Code Authority will be monitoring member compliance of the code using “mystery shopping” and will respond to any complaints of breach.
A range of sanctions is available according to the seriousness of non-compliance.
Acting ACNC commissioner Murray Baird said: the ACNC welcomed the FIA’s new code which would “help ensure fundraising organisations conduct ethical, accountable and transparent fundraising”.
“It is important for fundraisers to be able to recognise people in vulnerable circumstances and act ethically and responsibly when engaging them. Charity boards should ensure they have good fundraising practices in place as part of running a well-governed, accountable organisation,” Baird said.
In 2015, FIA was contacted by (then) communications minister Malcolm Turnbull expressing his concern about the conduct of some fundraisers towards people in vulnerable circumstances, particularly people with dementia, intellectual disability or other mental health issues who are not in a position to make an informed decision about whether to give a donation.
FIA responded by establishing a sustainability taskforce to examine sector practices and propose changes to self-regulation.The taskforce found that, with the population ageing, there was a growing risk that people in vulnerable circumstances may unintentionally be contacted by a fundraiser.
It concluded that reducing the number of mailings, phone calls and other forms of charitable appeals to people in vulnerable circumstances was important to the long-term sustainability of the sector.