Cross border clash over the future of fundraising

Scotland v england

​English regulator's dismay at Scottish stance on the new Fundraising Preference Service

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15th November 2016 by Graham Martin 2 Comments

The future of fundraising regulation has become the focus of a cross-border clash.

England and Wales’ Fundraising Regulator has expressed dismay at a decision to encourage charities in Scotland not to sign up to the new Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) when it’s launched early next year.

As revealed by TFN, the Scottish Fundraising Implementation Group, set up to develop a set of standards for the industry in Scotland, said it was telling Scottish charities they shouldn’t feel they have to engage with the FPS, which will allow people to opt-out of contacts with fundraisers.

The group is of the opinion that the FPS is not suitable for Scotland and that existing laws cover any problems which may arise.

We are disappointed that Scottish donors will not have the same opportunity to express their preferences as those in England and Wales

However, the Fundraising Regulator – which was set up following a series of scandals involving mostly English-based charities – described this stance as “disappointing”.

A spokesperson said: "The decision about whether Scottish charities are covered by the Fundraising Preference Service is one for Scotland to make.

"We acknowledge the decision made in Scotland but are disappointed that Scottish donors will not have the same opportunity to express their preferences as those in England and Wales."

The FPS is due to launch in early 2017 at an initial cost of £750,000 after it was proposed in a 2015 National Council for Voluntary Organisations-led UK review of fundraising practice.

It has been designed to apply to all UK charities that spend £100,000 or more year on fundraising and will be supported by an annual £3,000 to £4,000 subscription fee.

However, the Scottish implementation group, made up of independent experts, decided the service is unnecessary for Scottish-only charities.

The group, which included representation from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, consulted charities in Scotland on their thoughts about the FPS.

It then notified the UK Fundraising Regulator that it is not convinced the FPS offers any more protection than current laws.

Valerie Surgenor, a partner specialising in charity at MacRoberts law firm and chair of the expert group, said: “The third sector in Scotland in general understands the attractiveness of the FPS concept.

“We all have a desire to protect vulnerable people, curb aggressive fundraising and promote good practice generally and indeed there is nothing to prevent the Scottish public from signing up to FPS should they wish to do so.

“Whilst this won’t cover fundraising communications from Scottish-only charities, it will cover charities from England and Wales (and UK-wide charities whose lead regulator is the Charity Commission), however I am sure Scottish charities will respect the wishes of any potential donor.”

Members of the public in Scotland who have a complaint to make about Scottish charity fundraising should contact the Scottish Fundraising Complaints service

15th November 2016 by John Brady

I note that the Fundraising Regulator is "disappointed that Scottish donors will not have the same opportunity to express their preferences"Not sure how that disapointment fits with the sentiment in opening comment about it being a matter for Scotland to decide. Given that Scottish Donors are encouraged to tell charities how they would like to be communicated, there is a Scottish Fundraising complaints suytem, and donors have the option if not happy to sign up with the Telephone Preference Service or the Mailing Preference Service. it appears that donors in Scotland have adequate protection.But its not just the view from stakeholders North of the Border, the UK Parliament's Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee said that given TPS and MPS they were wholly uconvinced by the need for an additional Fundraising Preference Service.

21st November 2016 by Rose Burn

I see that the Scottish implementation group asked the views of Scottish charities but it didn't ask the views of English based charities which Scots might support (Red Cross for example) nor the views of donors - us the public. It would be very helpful if charities across the UK followed the same rules in this important area.