Safe and responsible fundraising as COVID-19 restrictions lift

By Charlotte Urwin, Head of Policy, Fundraising Regulator and Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and External Affairs, Chartered Institute of Fundraising

When there are times of big upheaval, uncertainty, and new ways of doing things, the famous words “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” can feel particularly true. The fundraising world at the start of 2020 may, for many, feel like that foreign country.

During the past two years, fundraising organisations across the UK had to pause or cancel in-person fundraising, and get to grips with new online platforms to fundraise virtually. Many organisations are now working differently both in terms of their fundraising activity and their physical location, with many fundraisers now working from home or in a hybrid model. In many cases, they have done so with diligence and with the safety of their staff, volunteers, and supporters at the forefront of their decision making as they carry out fundraising in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice.

The Fundraising Regulator and Chartered Institute of Fundraising came together during the early stages of the pandemic to provide guidance to help fundraising organisations navigate the way forward. Our guidance throughout 2020 and 2021 was applicable across all four UK nations and designed to help fundraisers, trustees, and senior staff to understand the relevant government public health advice. It provided a framework for decision making as organisations returned to public fundraising in a safe and responsible way. 

Fast-forward to February 2022, and many formal restrictions put in place by national governments have been withdrawn (there are some that remain, for example mandatory mask wearing in some settings in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). But we want to make sure that organisations remain supported as they look ahead to their future fundraising activity. It is vital that organisations continue to fundraise in a safe and responsible way and that managing the risks of COVID-19 remains part of their planning process. We also want to provide reassurance to fundraisers and the public that responsible in-person fundraising is appropriate and valid. By following our guidance organisations can ensure consistent high standards of fundraising across the UK.

That is why today we have updated our guidance to reflect the current situation and provide ongoing support to fundraising organisations across the UK. It contains specific advice that can be applied to all fundraising, as well as some important continuing government guidance to follow, including the distinctions between approaches in the UK nations. We are mindful of not introducing new requirements which add unnecessary burden or are disproportionate. Therefore, we have developed the guidance taking the lead from the approach taken by national governments and the requirements set in the Code of Fundraising Practice.

The guidance may need to adapt again over the year, particularly if government guidance changes in response to new variants. This could be more likely during the winter months. For now, we hope that this guidance continues to be helpful and provide reassurance for fundraising organisations across the UK. We look forward to seeing innovative and creative fundraising campaigns continuing to be carried out safely and responsibly in the year ahead.