It is critical for the charity sector to reinstate and maintain public trust in its fundraising practices. For this to happen, confidence over the adequacies of fundraising must flow from trustees. That fundraising practices sit wholeheartedly within the sphere of trustee governance has never had greater emphasis. Trustees are the first line of accountability for these practices, and have a duty to ensure that there is compliance with the law.
If this is not to become an unsustainable burden for Trustees, most of them volunteers without specialist knowledge, some pointers will be necessary, as well as some sector wide training and support. To that end, we must welcome the announcements thus far from the Institute of Fundraising, which are designed to strengthen the Code of Fundraising Practice, and to restore public confidence, and which include:
- Providing on every communication a clear explanation for donors on how to “opt out” of receiving further communications;
- Banning the sale of an individual’s data to a third party.
- Prohibiting persistent or intrusive behaviours which impose pressure to donate.
Together with senior managers, Trustees will need to regularly review their organisation’s compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice, and this will require Trustees to take a more active role than hitherto in managing any relationships with external professional agencies. In this state of heightened consciousness for Trustees a guiding principle must be to ensure that the organisation always acts in accordance with its values, and that any sub-contractor or agency shares those values. Beyond clarity on values, trustees will need to ensure that clear procedures, documentation and paperwork are in place and regularly reviewed with agencies, volunteers and commercial partners.
The guidance contained in the Charity Commission Consultation document is a good starting point for trustees seeking good practice pointers in the fundraising jungle.