Home or away, changes to fundraising regulation will affect all UK-based charities

8 June 2017
Author: Stephen Dunmore

Charities rely on the generosity and trust of the UK public to help fund their work overseas, raising millions of pounds each year for international development projects.  

However, no matter where the money is being spent, UK charities have a responsibility to the public to make sure that their fundraising is respectful, open, honest and accountable. As the Fundraising Regulator prepares to celebrate one year since its launch, we want to ensure that the sector understands its responsibilities to the public and the latest developments in fundraising regulation.

Data and Consent

The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect in May 2018. Central to the GDPR changes is the idea of using consent as a basis for sending personalised fundraising requests to individuals. Under the new regulation, organisations will have to show that the consent they have from donors to contact them is freely given, specific and informed, with a positive indication to signify the donor’s agreement.  “Opt-out” approaches where the individual’s agreement is assumed by the charity rather than explicitly given will no longer be acceptable.

While consent is advisable where a genuine choice over communications is being offered to the donor, it is not the only lawful basis for sending Direct Marketing communications. Charities should consider what the purpose of their communication is and check to see whether an alternative basis for contact (such as the “legitimate interest” condition) might be more appropriate.

Recognising that this is an issue of concern across the sector, we have published practical guidance and accompanying case studies to help charities review and amend their data and consent processes.  

The highest standards of fundraising

The way fundraisers communicate with potential donors will also be affected by changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice, the UK-wide standards expected of all charity fundraisers.

Following consultation with the sector, the Fundraising Regulator is preparing to implement changes to the standards set out in the Code. The amendments will focus on those areas of the Code which currently hold the greatest concern for the public, including agreements with third party fundraisers, trustee oversight of fundraising and the way fundraisers inform and persuade the public to give. The Code of Fundraising Practice is a living document, which will evolve over time in response to developments in fundraising practice and the expectations of the public.

At a time of significant change for the sector we are working closely with organisations including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Commission to ensure the right information and advice is available to help fundraisers. Whether the cause is UK-based or international, we want to strike the right balance between the needs of charities to seek financial support from the public and the right of the public to not be subject to undue pressure to give.

Stephen will be speaking at the Funding for Development Conference on 10 July. Join us to hear more about the upcoming changes, as well as new trends in public and institutional fundraising.

About the author

Stephen Dunmore
Fundraising Regulator

Stephen Dunmore was appointed as chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator in December 2015.