Scots charities slam English fundraising regulator


​Remarks made by new Fundraising Regulator are out of touch  

21st April 2016 by Robert Armour 2 Comments

Charity leaders have slammed the new Fundraising Regulator for being out of touch with Scottish politics and undermining Scotland’s own fundraising consultation.

Theresa Shearer, chair of the Scottish Fundraising Working Group, said she was both shocked and bemused at comments made by Stephen Dunsmore, interim chief executive of the Fundraising Regulato,r who said the new body should have a UK-wide responsibility.

He referred to the consultation paper published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) in February, which recommended that the soon to be abolished Fundraising Standards Board should not be replaced in Scotland and that responsibility for fundraising should instead sit with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and charities themselves.

Dunmore, who visited Scotland earlier in the year to observe the review's progress, described the paper as "slanted in one direction". He said: "We’ll have to see what the outcome is. There’s a lot of politics involved."

There is no easy legal or Parliamentary route to a single authority - Martin Sime

The comments were made alongside the interim regulator saying it was for Scotland to decide how fundraising regulation should work.

Shearer said Dunsmore showed a “lack of understanding of the true meaning of political devolution to Scotland and a lack of interest in seeing genuine consultation deliver solutions.”

In a letter addressed to the regulator, she said: “My experience, and that of my colleagues from the Scottish Fundraising Working Group and SCVO, of your visit to Scotland was that of an interested and respectful observer.

“Obviously, your stated preference was for UK-wide fundraising regulator but your assertion was that it was for Scotland to decide how fundraising regulation should work in Scotland.

“As to the alleged role of politics in the decision making, I believe you highlighted in your speech at SCVO’s Gathering event in Glasgow the lack of a political hand guiding our work on fundraising regulation in Scotland.

“As to the consultation being slanted, the extensive consultation on regulatory options underway in Scotland, with both the sector and public, only serves to highlight the lack of consultation with the sector, and particularly the public, in England and Wales subsequent to the Etherington Review.”

The new regulator will be funded by a levy on charities and will have an annual budget of £2.5 million.

This would come to about £1,250 per organisation if it was applied in the form of a levy across the approximately 2,000 charities that spend more than £100,000 a year on fundraising, which was how the Etherington review recommended the regulator be funded.

Martin Sime, chief executive of SCVO, said: “In practice it is simply not possible for UK ministers and the Cabinet Office to underpin self-regulation with statutory powers beyond the England and Wales scope of the Charity Commission. 

“However much Dunsmore pines for a return to pre-devolutionary days, there is no easy legal or parliamentary route to a single authority.”

Martin Sime: decision lies with the Scottish third sector

Scots charities slam English fundraising regulator

As the interim chief officer of the Fundraising Regulator, Stephen Dunmore is en​titled to air his view that Scotland should be part of his remit.   

But he will have to do rather better at standing up an argument about why that is in the best interests of fundraising in Scotland if his position is going to win the day.  

The arguments against are mostly substantial and practical rather than political. The current options review is open and led by the sector itself because that is where responsibility lies.   

By contrast, the extent to which UK ministers are calling the shots over the regime which Stephen leads well-illustrates where politics really does interfere.   

Charities in Scotland can’t fail to notice the rather toxic environment in which their sisters in England have to operate. There seems little appetite to get sucked in to that.

In practice it is simply not possible for UK ministers and the Cabinet Office to underpin self-regulation with statutory powers beyond the England and Wales scope of the Charity Commission.   

However much Stephen pines for a return to pre-devolutionary days, there is no easy legal or parliamentary route to a single authority. Given that the old regime, with its absence of ownership and boots on the ground in Scotland was largely invisible and irrelevant, it is no surprise that our public consultation on these matters has shown considerable enthusiasm for a new system which emphasises the role of charities themselves and which is established by the sector with supporting roles for OSCR and the Scottish Government.    

If legislation is required then that will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament. The central idea that (especially big) fundraisers don’t want the hassle of dealing with different systems is also a bit superficial.  

International charities routinely deal with such matters wherever they operate and not all are headquartered in London  Anyway, we heard these very same sentiments when charity law was first devolved and the world has not come to an end.

Fifteen years of devolution has brought many of us to the point where we should respect and learn from such differences. What can the Charity Commission learn from OSCR and vice versa? Why do more Scots donate to Charity? How can we all maintain public trust and confidence and create a positive environment in which charity can flourish? 

It seems unlikely that the best answer to any of these questions involves pitching our lot in with Stephen’s new outfit. A lack of ownership of what was being done in themselves want to take responsibility for ensuring that fundraising is conducted to the highest possible standards.

That, Stephen, is how it should be.

24th April 2016 by paul causton

is it really about the english? or are you just being silly? it is the organisation, not the english at the source of the problem, grow up and be a journalist...

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