Fundraising and Charity Law Updates: Is Your Charity Compliant?

By Rosie Brass, senior solicitor, IBB Solicitors

Whilst news about data protection and consent has been the focus of the fundraising arena recently  and charities have been busy planning for compliance with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), developments with the new Fundraising Regulator (‘Regulator’), which took over the regulation of charitable fundraising in July 2016, also deserve our attention.

New Requirements for Fundraising Agreements

All fundraising agreements with paid fundraisers (‘Professional Fundraisers’) and businesses that represent donations are being made to a charity (‘Commercial Participators’) must now comply with the new requirements which stem from the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 (‘Act’). Whilst the new requirements came into force on the 1st November 2016, the grace period of 5 months granted by the Regulator (for organisations to get their paperwork in order before they are in breach of the new law) expired on the 31st March 2017.

The new requirements are that the compulsory written agreements between charities and Professional Fundraisers and/or Commercial Participators must include extra information covering:

  • The scheme for regulating fundraising or recognised fundraising standards that will apply to the Professional Fundraiser or Commercial Participator in carrying out the agreement (such as the Code of Fundraising Practice);
  • How the Professional Fundraiser or Commercial Participator will protect the public, including vulnerable people, from unreasonably intrusive or persistent fundraising approaches and undue pressure to donate; and
  • How charities will monitor the Professional Fundraiser’s or Commercial Participator’s compliance with these requirements.

As a result of the new requirements, any new agreements must now incorporate the above points and existing agreements will need to be amended too.

The Fundraising Levy

The Regulator has issued formal letters and invoices to more than 2000 of the largest charities (whose annual fundraising expenditure is more than £100,000) requesting payment of a fee for “regulatory services”. The levy is required to fund the Regulator and the Charity Commission has confirmed that payment of it is a proper use of charitable funds. Technically however, charities are not obliged to pay the levy as payment is voluntary and so each charity must consider, bearing in mind its own circumstances and the potential reputational consequences, whether payment of the levy is appropriate. The Minister for Civil Society has nevertheless warned charities that if insufficient voluntary payments are forthcoming, the reserve powers in the Act  will be used to make payment of the levy a legal requirement.

Registration with the Fundraising Regulator

Registered charities can now apply to register with the Fundraising Regulator. Charities which have already paid the fundraising levy will already be registered and all other registered charities can pay an annual administration fee of £50. Registration means that charities have made a commitment to donors and the public as set out in the Fundraising Promise that their fundraising activities are “legal, open, honest and respectful”, and that they agree to comply with standards for fundraising in the Code of Fundraising Practice.  In return, charities will receive a registration pack containing the ‘registered with’ badge in several formats which can be applied to all fundraising materials, performing a similar role to the Fundraising Standard Board’s non-redundant tick . As with payment of the levy, registration is not compulsory. Charities are therefore free to decide that registration is not appropriate but in any event trustees are still under a legal duty to ensure that all fundraising activities carried out in their charity’s name comply with the current legislation and good practice requirements and are in line with their charity’s values.

The New Fundraising Preference Service

The Regulator has made its final decisions on the development of the new Fundraising Preference Service (‘FPS’) and has announced that it is expected in the summer. It is now clear that the FPS will enable members of the public to register that they no longer want to be contacted by specific charities for fundraising purposes, by re-setting their fundraising preferences. This small reset button is a departure from the big red button which would have allowed people to opt-out of communications from all charities which was originally envisaged and could have risked individuals unwittingly blocking charities they would have otherwise been happy to support. Registration is likely to be time limited to 24 months, and the Regulator will ensure that charities are notified of people opting out, which will helpfully avoid the need to check suppression lists as was initially feared.

Some elements of the FPS will however continue to cause widespread concern in the sector:

  • It will apply to all charity fundraising communications even if the core purpose of the communication is not to raise funds. This means that, for example, inviting people to events and including links to donations or appeals in the signature of emails will be caught.
  • The final proposals have removed the opportunity for charities to check in with pre-existing supporters to make sure that they no longer wished to hear from them. Some slight comfort has since been provided by the Regulator here as they have indicated that a charity may still be able to contact a committed donor in relation to direct debits and other matters where it is in its legitimate interests to do so, and has also indicated a willingness to work with charities to resolve any problems in this area.

Rosie Brass is a senior solicitor in IBB’s charities team. For further information on  charity fundraising regulations or any other charity  law matter   please contact our  solicitors  on 01895 207290 or email charities@ibblaw.co.uk.

 

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Do small charities matter?

By Helen Cracknell, lead support for groups at Community Impact Bucks

As Small Charity Week (19-24th June 2017) approaches I have been reflecting on the fact that when we talk about charities most people tend to think about their favourite cause or some national, well known charities – whether they are known for positive reasons or not.  But small charities are quite different. When I asked my partner what came to mind when he thought about a small charity he said “something local, run by volunteers.” My own personal experience of small charities, for example both as a member and then volunteering with a local job club after redundancy, is exactly like this. In my role with Community Impact Bucks as Lead Support to Groups most of the people who come to us for help are small, local groups either entirely run by volunteers or with very few paid staff.

NCVO defines small charities* as under £100,000 income, which represent 83% of the total. As most of these charities are local (some 70-80%) they have a fantastically important role in dealing with grass roots issues and making a positive difference to the vulnerable people in our communities. However, classifying charities just by the size of their income doesn’t give you the real picture.  It’s the impact they are making that really matters.

Just imagine what life would be like if these small charities weren’t there: for people who are depending upon them for their trip to the local social club in the community bus; for help getting back on their feet after bereavement, redundancy or other life-changing events; having a local hall or community building where people can attend local activities and events; activities which bring different parts of the community together; and all the other ways in which individuals and communities benefit from their work. And imagine this scenario against the backdrop of the squeeze on public services, which hits the vulnerable in our societies even harder. So I believe that small charities matter much more than we perhaps understand or give credit for.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the scale of problems around us which stops us from doing anything at all. I have always loved the story of the young girl walking along a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish.” After a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

So, if you run or work in a small charity make the most of Small Charity Week to get your own charity recognised for the great work you are doing. And if you want to get involved in a small charity you won’t need to look far for groups of people who would really appreciate your energy and skills. In the words of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

*A focus on small charities NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac https://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac16/a-focus-on-small-charities/

Six Steps to Volunteering Heaven!

By Hazel Finney, Lead for Volunteering, Community Impact Bucks

Trying to land your ideal volunteer role is a bit like dating.  You have a perfect opportunity in mind, a mental “check list”, and heaps of expectation.  You meet a few organisations all full of enthusiasm, but sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, the reality is not all it’s cracked up to be, and your volunteering bubble is well and truly burst!

So, how do you keep motivated and scoop the prize with your pride intact?  Well, like all things worth having, it may take a little time, perseverance and a side order of good luck. Sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time, but here are my 6 top tips to help you find your perfect match:

  1. Know yourself, and be clear about what you’re looking for

You might not be embarking on something as serious as a new job, but you’re preparing to make a change in your life for the better.  It’s worth taking half an hour or so to sit down and think about the following: What do you hope to achieve from volunteering?  There are a whole host of volunteering opportunities out there – what skills do you want to use or gain?  How much time do you have to volunteer: are you looking for a one-off volunteering role or something more longer term?  What type of charity/community group are you interested in?  Are you happy being micro-managed, or do you want the freedom to take charge and do things your way?  If you really relish responsibility, being a Trustee is something to seriously consider – it could help your personal development and leadership skills.

  1. Ensure your CV or list of skills are tip top

At the end of the day, we all need to sell ourselves to other people and demonstrate why we’re best suited to do something.  Why are you the best person for a particular role?  What are your strengths (and weaknesses)?  If you’re interested in a role requiring specialist skills, for example, fundraising, marketing/digital communications, business planning or finance, why do you stand out from the crowd – and what qualifications do you have?

  1. Widen your search as much as possible

From Volunteering Bucks, the online volunteer portal for Buckinghamshire, you can access Do-it, the national volunteer recruitment website, which is a great place to start looking for a role – create a profile, select your preferences, and get searching!  We’ve developed a handy guide to help you.

If you want to offer specialist skills (e.g. marketing, IT, finance), or are looking for a Trustee role, Community Impact Bucks is a proud partner of Reach Volunteering, the national organisation that connects charities and not-for-profits with skilled and experienced volunteers, and we’re now live streaming the latest Buckinghamshire-based roles on our volunteering portal: Skilled roles, Trustee roles.

You can also check out our portal for access to other recruitment sites that you might find useful.

Don’t forget to also look at local publications/noticeboards if you’re wanting a role close to where you live.

  1. Take heed of red flags!

If you’ve applied for a role and you don’t hear back after a week, it’s worth contacting them again – there may be a genuine reason for this.  If there’s still nothing, steer well clear – they’re obviously not worthy of you; we all deserve a little respect.  It’s time to move on and not waste any more time.

  1. Did you get ‘the feeling’?

If you are asked by an organisation to meet them, how did it go?  Were they friendly and welcoming? Did they give you time to say what you wanted?  Were you able to just be yourself and let your natural enthusiasm shine through?  Did they explain the next steps with a timeframe?  If you left feeling a bit flat, then the role probably isn’t for you – but if things just felt right then this is a really good sign – you could be on a winning streak!

  1. Coming on-board

Congratulations – you’ve been offered the role!  If you accept it, this is a really crucial stage as you are undoubtedly fully committed, and being let down now could take the wind out of your sails.  But – if you’re sent through any paperwork promptly, and given a thorough induction including any necessary training, then it sounds like you’ve hit the jackpot!  Relax, and enjoy the journey.

Good luck!  I hope you find what you’re looking for!