Back to basics on fundraising standards

Stephen Service, former Policy Manager, Fundraising Regulator

How to keep it simple? This is the question behind the latest consultation on the Code of Fundraising Practice, which opens today.

The Code of Fundraising Practice is the single set of standards we ask fundraisers across the UK to uphold. It should be required reading for all charitable organisations that fundraise. But we know from speaking to charities that many either only partially know what it contains, or are entirely unaware of its existence. 

So how do we encourage charities to use it? Again, we know that many struggle with its accessibility. With 20 different sections, additional rulebooks, legal appendices and additional guidance in the current Code, we recognise it can be difficult to know where to start. It’s particularly hard if you’re new to fundraising, or if you’re a smaller charity without dedicated fundraising staff.

To fully understand why we’re running this consultation, we need to consider the history of the Code itself. A bit like a patchwork quilt, the Code is an amalgamation of several individual Codes for different fundraising methods. These were brought together in 2005 by the Institute of Fundraising. And like any patchwork quilt, you can see the joins and the repetitions of rules in multiple places.

That is not to say I’m averse to a patchwork quilt – particularly one woven with the knowledge of experts across the charity sector – which is why the consultation is not intended to make fundamental changes to the standards within the Code. However, there comes a time when a quilt is due a good spring clean.

Last year we took steps to update the Code by holding our first major consultation on its contents. This feedback, along with roundtable sessions held with smaller charities, queries and comments from fundraisers, and conversations with other regulators and bodies in the charity sector have prompted this second consultation.

It focuses on the style, presentation, clarity and accessibility of the standards and we’re asking you to feedback on a new draft of the Code. That new draft includes a new table of contents, a simpler ordering of the Code’s sections, a “plain English” review of the language used in it and a new introduction – amongst other changes.

Ultimately, it is vital that all fundraisers can use and understand the Code confidently and with ease, and we want an improved experience for both fundraisers and the general public alike.

Like all the work we undertake, we’re keen to get organisations across the sector involved. We encourage you to respond between now and the date the consultation closes (Friday 16 November). So whether you’re new to the Code of Fundraising Practice or an old friend, get involved and make your voice heard!

Stephen Service is the Policy Manager at the Fundraising Regulator.