Charities given ‘last chance’ on fundraising – our response

Following the Etherington Review and the announcement that UK charities’ fundraising activities could be controlled by law through the use of a Fundraising Regulator, SYCF gives its response on how important it is that charities engage with donors and potential supporters in a respectful and transparent way.

Like many charities, the Foundation was deeply saddened by the recent bad press around Kids Company and bad practices around hounding of older and vulnerable donors. We would like to stress that most charities don’t behave in this way and that it is unfortunately the actions of just a few that have raised concerns that impact on the many.  Like all business and organisations often things can go wrong through bad processes rather than bad intentions – this is why there is a need to be constantly vigilant.

For most charities, the power to “raise funds” is enshrined in their governing documents.  The “how” they do this is usually incorporated into a marketing and communications plan which is drawn up by the staff, but which must be approved by the board of trustees. The role of the board is also to monitor and oversee ongoing activity and to ensure that what is being done in the name of the charity is carried out in a responsible manner. We have strict governance procedures and practices in place, externally audited. In addition there is an external accreditation scheme through the Charity Commission for all Community Foundations with a re-assessment every three years, which reviews all our governance, including fund raising practices.

South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation is fortunate in that we have a very engaged board of trustees, who scrutinise our plans before they are implemented and monitor them closely on an ongoing basis. We have a dedicated subcommittee that helps oversee the details of our development activity. All our trustees are fully involved in the effective governance of SYCF. The Trustees act in a voluntary capacity and do not receive any remuneration during the financial year, nor are expenses claimed by any trustee. The Trustees have considerable involvement in the Foundation’s affairs.

We respond promptly to requests to unsubscribe from our mailing list; we communicate with donors at a frequency they are happy with; we are very transparent about our administration costs; and we give complete clarity as to how much of the donation is given out to the beneficiaries.  We support one of the key conclusions of the review in that we must not lose sight of the principle of self-regulation and that we would encourage all charities to do more themselves to develop and enforce standards and rules of behaviour.