Related BBC article: Charity fundraising tactics 'a scandal', says senior MP.

So where does that leave the charity sector which relies on public goodwill to deliver its objectives? And in particular, where does this leave people thinking of supporting charities by leaving donations under their Wills?

According to a recent survey (Proportion of people who include legacies in their wills is increasing), more people than ever before are including gifts to charities in their Wills – but with significant numbers of people still dying without leaving a Will, the charity sector can ill afford to put off prospective donors.

Many fundraising practises have been subject to criticism from the CPAC but it appears that the biggest issue is properly managing theoutsourcing of fundraising to external agencies. These relationships are often driven by targets to achieve a certain value of donations or secure a number of new donors within certain timeframes, which can lead to a disconnect between a charity’s fundamental aims and values and donors’ actual experience of the charity through their fundraisers.

A key message for charities is to review their approach to fundraising to ensure that the fundamental message of their charity is not lost or tarnished through the actions of fundraisers, especially where fundraising activities are outsourced. As with all external messaging, good or bad, the reflection is on the charity – it is not enough to say ‘we didn’t have control’ or ‘we don’t endorse the practises undertaken in our name’. In the current environment, it is important to ensure that the respective obligations of charities and the fundraising agencies they work with are set out clearly in contracts and there are clear and appropriately resourced arrangements for monitoring whether the expected behaviour is delivered.

It is important to recognise that many charities have been leading good practice in this area for years. Similarly most fundraising agencies still in business do good work. As Richard Taylor of the Institute of Fundraising said:

“Some of the problems are to do with third party agencies, we accept that, but we have to be careful because a lot of these agencies do great work for charities and they do it to a very high standard,”

This is not an area where there are simple answers, but delivering the highest standards of ethical fundraising will be a priority for those charities who want to protect their reputation and, in turn, their prospects of legacy income.

As for legacy giving under a Will, the key requirement of charities is to make sure donors appreciate the need to have a valid Will – and one which can stand up to any scrutiny it may be placed under through the donor having appropriate independent legal advice from a suitably qualified and regulated professional.

With Remember a Charity Week making the headlines, here’s to charities supporting growth in knowledge of the benefits of making a Will and the positive choices and options a Will provides rather than concerning fundraising tactics.

For more information

Charities can contact Shivaji Shiva.

Indiviuals thinking of supporting charities by leaving donations under their Wills can contact Donna Holmes.