Fundraising regulation, bringing in the changes
Fundraising regulation in Scotland is changing. In December last year, the Fundraising Working Group was charged with defining a system that would: command confidence in charity fundraising; inspire public trust and actively promote good fundraising. It did this by refining the three options that were described in my previous fundraising blog, consulting widely with the charity sector and the public, using this input to propose a new way of working.
There was an enthusiastic participation in the consultation, and the results were generally pretty clear. The majority of people who got involved wanted to build on the strengths of the systems that we already have in place in Scotland. They wanted to ensure that there was a strong focus on improving standards across the sector, and they wanted OSCR to play a slightly enhanced role as the back-stop to this self-regulation.
But what will this mean in practice?
Well, from the 7 July 2016 there will be a new regime in place. A new fundraising hub is being set up. It will have a dedicated phone line (0808 164 2520), website and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The hub will be a source of information and advice.
In terms of the complaint process, the first place to go with any complaint will continue to be the charity itself. Where a charity is of a sufficient size, there should be a two tier complaints structure in place. So, if an individual feels that a complaint has not been handled well, it can be referred up to the trustees.
If the individual still remains dissatisfied, the complaint will be referred to an independent panel, made up of representatives from the public, donors, charities, and fundraisers, with OSCR and the Scottish government as observers. The panel will be in place by autumn of this year. Where the panel finds an issue that needs OSCR attention, it will be passed to us to be dealt with under our Inquiry Policy.
Charities and the public are unlikely to see big changes come the 7 July. However the shift in emphasis is significant. By looking at prevention, investing in complaints handling, and including all charities within its remit, there is the possibility of really tackling the problems of bad fundraising practice at their very roots.