Thursday 16th May 2024

The Fundraising Regulator (FR) is the independent regulator for charitable fundraising in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Established in 2016, it operates primarily through a voluntary levy system paid by charities that spend over £100,000 annually on fundraising activities. The FR's mandate encompasses overseeing compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice (the Code), handling complaints from the public about fundraising activities, and working to maintain public trust and confidence in charitable fundraising.

The FR regularly engages with stakeholders and, in March, held its Annual Event at the British Museum, which was also available to watch as an online livestream. Topics discussed at the event included:

Updating the Code

The FR is running a multi-year process of reviewing and updating the Code. They are currently in phase 3: working on producing an updated Code in response to comprehensive stakeholder consultations carried out in 2022 and 2023.

It is anticipated that the draft updated Code will be available for consultation in early/mid-2024, with the aim to publish the final Code in early 2025.

This has been a major project for the FR and Stone King Partner Reema Mathur has led the Charity Law Association’s working party to respond to the consultation. We await the draft updated Code with interest.

Restructuring of the Annual Complaints Report (ACR)

The ACR presents insights from the FR’s complaints casework. Find the 2022/2023 report here.

The FR recently consulted on how it presents this report and, as a result of the feedback, it will pause the ACR for two years while it restructures the report and re-considers what it contains.

The hope is that the new look ACR will have even more actionable insights for charities.

Subcontracting in face-to-face fundraising

The FR launched a market inquiry into the use of subcontracting in face-to-face fundraising in autumn 2023.

This is where charities engage fundraising companies to fundraise for them, and those companies subcontract the work, so that the people fundraising from the public are ever more remote from the charity they fundraise for.

In parallel, the FR carried out an investigation after The Times published articles about practices used to fundraise for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. Read the inquiry report, which was published shortly after the Annual Event.

AI and fundraising regulation

There is recognition of the potential risks and benefits of AI in fundraising. The FR is keen to work with charities to respond to the use of AI in charity fundraising, so that it doesn’t regulate in a vacuum.

Interestingly, the FR reported that it has not (yet) received many complaints about AI in fundraising, but it considers there’s potential for this to be a future trend in its casework.

Increasing the levy

The amount of levy charities pay has not changed since the FR was founded in 2016.

The FR consulted charities on increasing the levy and is currently considering how much to raise it by and how to manage future increases. The new levy rates are expected to be announced shortly, and will be effective from autumn 2024.