FRSB launches auditing programme to strengthen self-regulation

The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) is launching the first phase of its auditing programme today (24 June 2013), strengthening self-regulation with new measures to monitor compliance with the scheme.

Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, says: “The new auditing programme will enable the FRSB to deliver a more rigorous regulatory scheme. This is an important step, through which we hope to help charities identify and address any fundraising issues, with a clear goal of building public confidence in giving.”

The auditing programme is a two-phase initiative that will monitor compliance with all FRSB regulatory requirements, ranging from completion of the Annual Complaints Return and  use of the tick logo to adherence to the Fundraising Promise and the Institute of Fundraising’sCode of Fundraising Practice.

The first phase will investigate the source of any particularly high levels of complaints reported in charities’ annual returns and audit charities’ adherence to membership requirements, such as use of the give with confidence tick logo. The second phase will launch in January 2015; a fundraising standards compliance programme, monitoring adherence to the Fundraising Promise and Code of Fundraising Practice.

Commencing immediately, the first phase will investigate those organisations that reported particularly high levels of complaints in their annual returns. These organisations will be presented with benchmarking reports, indicating their complaint levels against their peer group. The FRSB will work with charities to review the source of these complaints and seek to ensure that, where relevant, practices are reviewed or amended.  Checks will also be undertaken to ensure that charities are adhering to the specific requirements of the self-regulatory scheme2.

Over the next eighteen months, the FRSB test and implement fundraising standards compliance measures. The FRSB will consult with charities through the FRSB Advisory Forum, the  Institute of Fundraising andPublic Fundraising Regulatory Association, in developing appropriate and applicable measures to monitor adherence to the Fundraising Promise and Code.

Issues of non-compliance will be dealt with through a formal 3-stage escalation process. At the initial stages, the focus will be to identify non-compliance, notify charities and give guidance for complying with the requirements. Where non-compliance is continued or repeated, the matter may be escalated to the FRSB Board with the most severe penalty being withdrawal of FRSB membership.

Alistair McLean, adds: “We are now working on a number of trial compliance measures to monitor and track fundraising performance. We are keen that those measures keep any administrative burden to charities to an absolute minimum and that regulation remains proportionate to a sector where standards remain high.”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, adds: “ Fundraisers recognise that maintaining public trust and confidence in charities and the way in which they fundraise is of critical importance and that adhering to best practice is how this is done. We look forward to working with the FRSB to maximise the impact of this new auditing process on public trust and confidence.”

To date, self-certification has been the key compliance measure for charities that subscribe to self-regulation of fundraising. Organisations that commit to self-regulation of fundraising are required to complete an annual complaint return and, in 2013, 87% of eligible charities did so, recording 33,744 total fundraising complaints. Few complaints are escalated to the FRSB for resolution. Additional auditing measures conducted in recent years include assessing charities’ use of the give with confidence branding on fundraising materials and implementation of a transparent and easily accessible complaints process.

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