CASE Europe response to the FPS working group report, 30 September 2016

Following the recommendations of Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in the Review into the Regulation of Charity Fundraising, George Kidd, chair of the Direct Marketing Commission has headed up a working group to develop a model for the Fundraising Preference Service.

The Fundraising Regulator’s findings and proposals can be found here. Final responses to the report were due on Friday 30 September. CASE Europe submitted the response to the Fundraising Regulator on behalf of our members:

This consultation continues a pattern of listening and responding to advice received, as happened with the levy consultation, and this approach is both noted and appreciated.

Our view is that context is important. The context of fundraising in the education sector is different to other sectors. The procedures followed need to work within the context. We note that the legislation focuses on what happens in large charities, and smaller charities will be exempted because of the context of their work. We believe there are a number of other considerations needed given the context of fundraising within educational institutions:

  • Fundraising in an education environment is a small percentage of total income. It does not receive the same focus as charities which are largely dependent on fundraising income for their survival. It is, therefore, approached in a somewhat different way to the large charities. Regulation therefore needs to be accommodating to this context too.
  • So given this, we are concerned by the prospect of the impact of alumni pressing the ‘large red button’ at an early stage in the development of their relationship with their university. Constraining the relationship this way may be yet another unintended consequence for universities of the tightening of regulation of charity fundraising regulation. To avoid this, we would argue strongly that any alumni, in addition to anyone who has given a donation in the past 24 months, should be eligible to be contacted by their university if they press the ‘large red button’.
  • The vast majority of fundraising contact is with alumni. The role of alumni supporting their university after they leave is an area which is developing in this country, it is nowhere near as developed as practices in the Unites States. So the context is one of an emerging practice, small but of growing importance given national policy and the missions of universities. It is also a relationship that develops over decades. Again, an important context to note.
  • Finally, we note that the FPS, MPS and TPS will work alongside each other. Given the circumstances this is an understandable compromise. However, it also provides the risk of errors and complications of having three systems. We would urge a further review and amendment to pull all these systems into one.

We have valued the opportunity to work with you on behalf of our members to get this regulation right, so that it can be effective in its goal of protecting the public from negative practices, whilst providing enough targeting and nuance for universities, schools and colleges who follow best practice to continue to raise essential funds from alumni and supporters.

You can view the final proposals released by the Fundraising Regulator here.

We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members, and will keep you updated of any progress in the upcoming weeks and months.

John Middleton is Executive Director at CASE Europe