A review of fundraising regulations, undertaken by Lord Etherington, was published today and recommends that the main regulator, the Fundraising Regulation Standards Board is shut down and replaced with a organisation that works collaboratively with statutory bodies, such as the Charity Commission.

The review was ordered by Ministers after Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old volunteer poppy seller for the Royal British Legion, killed herself in May this year. After Cooke’s death, it emerged that she had received thousands of phone calls and letters from charities asking her for money.  Her family have since publicly stated that there were ‘other factors’ which contributed to her suicide, nevertheless the case started a public conversation about the techniques employed by some fundraisers.

Shortly afterwards, the headlines were full of news about Kids Company  which collapsed after 20 years amid lots of blame and finger pointing, as well as the rather surprising news that the government had given £3m of public money to the charity just days before its demise.

Then, Angelina Jolie resigned from her position as trustee of the Halo Trust after discovering that other trustees were paying themselves £500 per day.

The press went into overdrive, with the Daily Mail firmly at the forefront, with a campaign which focused initially on cold calling but then moved into an attack on the sector as a whole.

With all this going on it’s no wonder that the public are losing faith and the sector must now take steps to combat the negative media coverage and to repair the damaged trust. The recommendations outlined in the review have been summarised nicely by the Guardian in this article. In essence, the review recommends:

1. A single, new fundraising regulator

2. A co-regulatory model (a 3 steps appraoch)

First line of defence – trustees are the first line of accountability for a charity’s fundraising activities.

Second line of defence – if malpractice occurred, the fundraising regulator would have the power to intervene.

Third line of defence – the relevant statutory regulator ( for example, the Charity Commission) would act as the backstop in cases that raised regulatory concerns on issues that fell within its remit.

3. Increased trustee responsibility

4. One code of practice

5. IoF and PFRA to merge

6. Emphasis on the donor experience and creation of a fundraising preference service

It is time for a change. The sector must be accountable for it’s actions and must have the courage of conviction to fight back to win public trust. Sticking to an ethos of being open, honest, accountable and ethical would be a start and perhaps this report marks the beginning of a new era meaning that we can truly say that we are ‘Proud to be Fundraisers’.

The full report is available here