Four small words of great significance: the key values of fundraising practice

By Gavin Doyle, Policy and Standards Officer at the Fundraising Regulator

Five years on since the Fundraising Regulator was formed, there have been significant transformations in fundraising practice. Our regulation has evolved alongside it, yet the values that underpin the fundraising standards have remained constant.

Through our enquiries service, we have seen fundraisers adapt to continuous change with impressive agility and tenacity over the past year and a half. Meanwhile, the public has continued to show great generosity and has supported the charitable sector in innovative ways. We have responded to the need for advice on fundraising during the pandemic, when the safety of the public and fundraisers has been paramount. 

During this period of considerable change and prolonged uncertainty, it’s essential that fundraisers continue to comply with the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) and uphold the values that underpin it through their actions and behaviours. It is important to remember that how fundraisers ask for support directly affects the public’s confidence in fundraising. 

That’s why today we have published new guidance for fundraisers and the public on the four key values of the code’s standards. These values are essential for creating a positive fundraising experience. Our guidance for fundraisers provides information on how to carry out fundraising that is in line with the code and protects the public. Our advice for the public helps people to understand the behaviours they can expect from fundraisers. 

The four values of fundraising practice

The code sets out the responsibilities that apply to fundraising carried out by charitable organisations and third-party fundraisers in the UK. The application of specific standards in the code often depends on the fundraising method or the type of fundraiser. However, all charitable fundraising and fundraisers must adhere to the four values which underpin the code’s standards: legal, open, honest and respectful

Regardless of whether it’s street collections, lotteries or events fundraising, or carried out by a charity, volunteer or a business, the key values remain the same and always apply. 

What does it mean to commit to these values in practice? 

The four values of the code - legal, open, honest and respectful - make sure that all fundraisers carry out their work in a way that protects public confidence in charitable fundraising.

  • Fundraising legally means that all fundraising must meet the requirements of the law.
  • Fundraising openly means being clear with the public about fundraising processes and being willing to explain, where appropriate, if they are asked for more information.
  • Fundraising honestly means acting with integrity and not misleading the public about the cause being fundraised for or the way a donation will be used.
  • Fundraising respectfully means demonstrating respect whenever fundraisers have contact with any member of the public.

Our two new pieces of guidance bring to life the importance of following these four values when fundraising. From offline to online, in person to post appeals, fundraisers should use the guidance to help them plan and carry out effective fundraising campaigns that are compliant with the code. 

Similarly, the advice helps members of the public learn about what to expect when they are asked to donate and what to do if they have questions about fundraising or fundraiser behaviour. It also gives assurance to members of the public that fundraising is principled and through the code organisations can be held to account.

As the fundraising landscape continues to change over the next five years, fundraisers must remember that to protect public confidence in fundraising, their behaviour must be guided by four small words of great significance: legal, open, honest and respectful.