17 April 2012
FRSB Proposes Self-Regulation Plus to Strengthen Existing Regulatory Model for Fundraising
Self-regulation of fundraising should be strengthened with the introduction of Government-backed incentives to increase take-up, the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has recommended in its submission to Lord Hodgson’s Review of the Charities Act 2006. The proposed enhanced regulatory model has been titled ‘ Self-Regulation Plus’ .
Self-Regulation Plus, as recommended by the FRSB, should include some or all of the following:
- Restricting public fundraising licences to FRSB member charities
- Public acknowledgement and promotion by the Charity Commission and other strategic partners that fundraising charities have an obligation to be members of the FRSB
- Stronger sanctions against those members that repeatedly breach the Codes
- Auditing charities before they join and become members of the FRSB
The charity sector has been quick to adapt to self-regulation with 45% of all voluntary income raised in the UK conducted by FRSB members, 81% of the top 100 charities and now over 1,400 organisations are committed to the scheme. The number of organisations signed up to best practice of fundraising is six times what it was at the launch of self-regulation and more than 18,000 fundraising complaints are collated and analysed by the FRSB annually, providing valuable benchmarking information for the sector. 92% of FRSB members report that self-regulation is an effective scheme and 86% think all charities that fundraise should be members.
Self-regulation of fundraising has proved successful. And yet, there are a number of key challenges that pose limitations to the current scheme, including:
- Public complaints about non-members have more than doubled over the past year and constitute a significant proportion of the FRSB’s workload. Many of these charities and suppliers do not conform to best practice and pose a risk to public confidence. Although few organisations deliberately breach these standards (breaches are largely due to oversight or error), the FRSB has no authority over non-members and cannot impose sanctions upon such organisations.
- The FRSB is determined to keep membership fees low however, without rapid growth to the membership base, the FRSB does not have the resources to conduct more active compliance monitoring, which would create a more robust and rigorous regulatory scheme.
- Although 10% of the public are aware of self-regulation, this needs to grow. A public awareness campaign is necessary in order to boost this figure considerably.
Through Self-Regulation Plus, fundraising regulation and best practice would extend further across the breadth of the sector, building public trust and confidence. Increased funding linked to the growth in membership income would also enable the FRSB to perform greater compliance monitoring and auditing programmes and to build public awareness of the scheme.
Sanctions against those that contravene best practice standards would form a weightier penalty if Self-Regulation Plus was introduced. For example, charities that repeatedly contravene best practice standards in public collections may be penalised with the withdrawal of the required public fundraising licence.
Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, says: “The charity sector has been quick to adapt to self-regulation and commit to best practice and should be congratulated for that commitment. But, the key to strengthening the scheme further is in engaging many more members. With complaints about non-members having doubled over the past year, we understand the issues that the public is concerned about and recognise that – in many cases – it is these non-members that pose the most significant risk to public trust and confidence.
“Self-Regulation Plus would enable the sector to continue to benefit from the flexibility of non-statutory regulation, increase engagement and with the option of imposing more stringent sanctions upon those that do not comply.”
 In 2006, around 200 organisational members of the Institute of Fundraising were signed up to fundraise in accordance with the Codes of Fundraising Practice.
 Source: FRSB member survey (330 organisations), February 2012.
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