The Lifeline Project was a well-regarded charity. Failure to carry out the targets within the contracts led the charity into insolvency and resulted in a personal, 7-year disqualification order.
(You can read the last e-briefing here)
On 7 June, the Charity Commission published updated fundraising guidance, CC20.
So what is new?
A change in emphasis
The new guidance was prompted by the much publicised events of last year. Unsurprisingly, there is a clear focus on the need for trustees to oversee fundraising and to ensure that fundraising is carried out in a way that reflects the charity’s values.
In a situation like this there is a risk that the pendulum could swing too far with heavy handed guidance leaving trustees so anxious that they seek to micro-manage fundraising operations. The consultation on the draft revised guidance helped avoid that. The tone of the guidance is well judged overall, encouraging trustees to establish systems and processes that deliver information at ‘the appropriate level of detail’ so trustees can oversee the charity’s fundraising and hold those involved to account.
The draft guidance highlights six key responsibilities for trustees:
- effective planning,
- supervising fundraisers,
- protecting the charity’s reputation and other assets,
- complying with fundraising law,
- following recognised standards, and
- being open and accountable.
There is little surprising here. The guidance is set out clearly and will strike many trustees as straightforward common-sense guidance. It also provides a useful framework for a conversation between trustees and managers responsible for fundraising – and it is clear from the guidance and accompanying blog that the Charity Commission wants to encourage such conversations. The Commission wants trustees and fundraisers to understand each other’s role so trustees can provide oversight and challenge saying: ‘Trustees should be bold about that challenge and fundraisers should welcome it.’
However, trustees will have to look beyond the guidance itself if they are going to deliver the ‘step change in charities’ approaches to fundraising’ the Commission expects. Fundraising is complex and the same is true of the law governing it. In many areas such as the rules on cause related marketing and ‘commercial participators’ the law is both poorly understood and badly enforced. The new guidance highlights some of these issues and signposts sources of further information including relevant codes of practice. There is also a forthcoming guide from the Institute of Fundraising supported by sector bodies which may provide a useful practical perspective. Even so, many trustees will lack the time or inclination to get to grips with such issues without support.
Overseeing fundraising effectively is a critical part of any charities work and a key component of good governance, particularly for those charities that make substantial fundraising appeals to individual donors. As the Commission acknowledges, many boards of trustees will need to ‘skill up’ by:
- arranging training,
- recruiting new trustees with relevant expertise, or
- seeking specialist advice.
For more information
Please contact Shivaji Shiva.
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