It is anticipated that the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill will become law within the next two weeks as final amendments made to the Bill by the House of Commons were approved by the House of Lords last Tuesday.
The Bill contains a number of provisions relating to Charity Commission powers to protect charities and charities’ powers to make social investments. Those measures, relating to fundraising, were inserted into the Bill last summer as charities were widely criticised for their fundraising practices in the wake of Olive Cooke’s suicide.
Last year, the government accepted Sir Stuart Etherington’s recommendation to give charities a final chance to make the self-regulation of fundraising work. Lord Grade of Yarmouth has been appointed as interim chair of the new fundraising regulator (which does not yet have a specific name) and Stephen Dunmore has been appointed as interim CEO.
Charities will be expected to register voluntarily with the new body once it is established. Stephen Dunmore has said he hopes to have the new regulator in control of fundraising within six months.
What does this mean for charitable fundraising?
The measures relating to fundraising are introduced by way of amendment to the Charities Act 1992 and Charities Act 2011. Once the Bill is in force, agreements between professional fund-raisers, commercial participators and charities will be required to:
- set out any scheme regulating fund-raising that the professional fund-raiser or commercial participator has agreed, voluntarily, to follow;
- contain details of measures taken to protect members of the public and, in particular, vulnerable members of the public from aggressive fundraising practices; and
- set out how charities will monitor compliance with the above.
Larger charities will also be required to include details of their fundraising activities, and compliance with the voluntary codes of regulation in their annual report.
A new section was added to the Bill this month to: (a) extend the existing reserve power of the Charity Commission; and (b) give a reserve power to the fundraising regulator, to regulate charity fund-raising.
If exercised, the power could require mandatory registration and compliance with a specified fund-raising regulator, or for fund-raising regulation to be controlled by the Charity Commission. The additional power is intended as a ‘backstop’ should the self-regulatory system that is being implemented fail.