Learning from the code review 2022-24 information gathering process

By Paul Winyard, Head of Policy at the Fundraising Regulator

Last autumn, I shared how the Fundraising Regulator was beginning a two-year process of reviewing and updating the Code of Fundraising Practice (the code) with the launch of a public call for information and stakeholder engagement. I’m pleased to say that this work didn’t reveal any major surprises. This shows there’s a broad consensus between us and the sector about what is good about the code and what could be improved.

Charities and sector experts shared suggestions about areas such as digital fundraising, working with third parties and vulnerability. As my team continues to develop proposals for consultation, I wanted to share more about some of the key themes we’re considering.

Improving overall clarity and accessibility

Most of those we heard from were positive about the current code. They told us that it’s clear, accessible and easy to navigate. The glossary was considered helpful for understanding key terms, though some definitions can be improved. Smaller organisations, which often lack in-house fundraising expertise, appreciate having relatively detailed standards on best practice. There is room to improve clarity and accessibility, especially for less experienced fundraisers. We will consider how to get the best balance between the detail in the code and the advice shared in our guidance.

Being fit for the digital fundraising landscape

There has been a marked increase in the use of digital fundraising tools and activity in recent years, accelerated by the pandemic. Some respondents questioned whether the code adequately caters for the growing use of online fundraising methods. For example, social media, gaming and streaming, and digital currencies. We want to make sure that any changes to the code remain flexible, as this area experiences frequent change and innovation. 

Providing greater clarity about working with others

The code already contains information about working with volunteers and external organisations. Some respondents suggested that these standards could be framed in a more helpful way, giving greater clarity on the different types of relationships covered and clearer information on the responsibilities of third parties. Again, we’ll consider how to get the best balance between the code and our guidance – especially where the standards are underpinned by charity law.

Reviewing standards where we are not the lead regulator 

The code refers to areas where we are not the lead regulator, such as data protection, advertising and gambling. The detail helps fundraisers to have the fullest picture of what they need to consider. However, some respondents felt certain sections provided too much information. We will consider whether simplifying, removing or changing the presentation of standards relating to other regulators, will be more helpful.

Reviewing standards on vulnerability

As a regulator our primary purpose is to protect the public. Some respondents suggested the code needs to take a more holistic view of vulnerability, which includes all those involved in fundraising activity – including the fundraisers themselves. We will consider how the code can be a good framework for protecting donors, fundraisers and volunteers.

The next steps

Since the information gathering process ended in November 2022, my team has been working closely with our Standards Committee to refine and develop proposals for potential changes to the code, which we will consult on this autumn. This will include proposals for removing or revising existing standards, and for adding new standards where appropriate. You can find more information about the timescales on the code review pages of our website and I look forward to sharing more information at various events this year.

You can stay up to date with news about the code review on our social media channels, by following us on Twitter @FundrRegulator or LinkedIn. I also recommend subscribing to our newsletter. You can contact us about the code review at consultations@fundraisingregulator.org.uk.