Fundraising Standards Board
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The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has been the independent regulator for charity fundraising in the UK since 2007. However following media scrutiny of charity fundraising throughout 2015 the Office for Civil Society, the UK government department with responsibility for charities, commissioned the Etherington Review of charitable fundraising regulation, which led to a decision to create a new Fundraising Regulator. The FRSB has committed to support the conclusions of the review, and the chair of the new regulator has said it will take over fundraising regulation by the end of 2016.
The FRSB was launched as a self-regulatory scheme, with the onus on charities and fundraising suppliers to opt into market regulation through the FRSB. Member organisations made a commitment to the 'Fundraising Promise', to adhere to the highest standards of fundraising practice and to being transparent and accountable in their fundraising.
The FRSB regulates fundraising practice against industry standards, monitoring complaints about charity fundraising and working to resolve issues between the public and fundraisers. Complaints are escalated through a formal three step process. It publises an annual fundraising complaints report. In addition,any adjudications on charities' failure to adhere to its codes are published at the FRSB's website.
Charity fundraising is widespread and varied. Professionals and volunteers employ a wide range of techniques to raise funds for charitable causes. Fundraising is a key source of income for many charities; for some, it is their sole income generator. It is estimated that there are around 45,000 fundraising charities in the UK. Together they raise more than £11 billion in voluntary income each year.
Regulation of Charity Fundraising
The Charities Act 2006 prescribed the establishment of a new self-regulatory framework for charity fundraising. In February 2007, a new body - the Fundraising Standards Board - was launched, tasked with regulating charity fundraising in line with industry standards (the Institute of Fundraising's Code of Fundraising Practice. Backed by the Office for Civil Society, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The Charities Act 2006 reserves the power to replace the self-regulatory model, should it fail, with statutory regulation.
In 2013, around half of all voluntary income raised in the UK is now being generated by charities that are signed up to regulation through the FRSB.
The UK's self-regulatory framework for charity fundraising is an opt-in scheme for charities and fundraising suppliers, operated by the FRSB. Fundraising is regulated against the Fundraising Promise and best practice standards for fundraisers; the Institute of Fundraising's Codes of Fundraising.Practice. The general public can check whether the charities they support are signed up to self-regulation online at www.frsb.org.uk or by looking for the FRSB tick on charity fundraising campaigns.
Organisations that sign up to self-regulation of fundraising must not only adhere to the Fundraising Promise and best practice standards for fundraising, but operate a public complaints scheme and report details of all complaints to the FRSB annually. Where a complainant is unsatisfied, he/she can seek redress from the FRSB.
Charity fundraising complaints
Charity fundraising often addresses highly emotive and sensitive topics. Each person's reactions to any one fundraising campaign might vary extensively. These views are important and can help charities improve their future fundraising campaigns. Also, by getting in touch with charities and discussing their views, supporters can find out more about why charities raise money this way.
At the end of 2011, charities reported more than 30,000 complaints to the Fundraising Standards Board. As with previous years, when assessed by method, direct mail fuels around half of all complaints, with telephone and door-to-door fundraising yielding the next highest numbers. The most common issues underlying complaints to charities relate to the frequency of asks and fundraisers' use of contact data (this includes data permissions, in addition to data or typographical errors).
People who are unhappy with the way a charity fundraises or a specific campaign first get in touch with the charity to inform them of their views. If the charity is signed up to regulation through the FRSB, it will be required to forward basic details of any complaints relating to its fundraising activity with the FRSB at the end of the calendar year.
If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the way a charity has dealt with their complaint it can be escalated through the FRSB.
The complaint will be referred to the FRSB (stage 2) for resolution if they are not satisfied by the charity's response. Where an issue is not resolved to either party's satisfaction at stage 2, it can be elevated further to the FRSB's independent Board for Adjudication (stage 3). After review, the Board (made up of both sector and lay representatives, including consumer agency Which?) will ascertain whether the complaint is to be upheld or rejected and, where relevant, what remedial action must be taken. Serious or repeated breaches of fundraising standards may lead to expulsion from the self-regulatory scheme. All adjudications are published online.
The FRSB works in conjunction with a number of fellow regulators including:
- Charity Commission – the charity regulator for England and Wales.
- Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) – the charity regulator for Scotland.
- Charity Commission for Northern Ireland – the charity regulator for Northern Ireland.
- CIC Regulator – the regulator for Community Interest Companies.
- Information Commissioners Office – the regulator for data protection issues.
- Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – the advertising regulator.
- Ofcom - the regulator and competition authority for communication industries.
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