New UK Site for Fundraiser Complaints Questioned over Board Member Payments

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July 7, 2016; Third Sector UK

In light of recent media focus on the issue, a new UK website launched yesterday that’s meant to gather complaints about overly aggressive fundraising. That in itself is interesting, but even as it opened for the business of receiving the public’s complaints, it was challenged by some of the 45 charities that funded its startup costs on the fact that the site pays its board members £300 a day. (As in the States, most UK charities do not pay their boards as a matter of course.) Lord Grade, chair of the Fundraising Regulator, has made a commitment to reexamine the practice and consider reorganizing the board as voluntary.

Back to the main event: The new independent entity, which flowed out of a recent press pile-on and a drop in public confidence, describes its role as follows:

Set and promote the standards for fundraising practice (‘the code’ and associated rulebooks) in consultation with the public, fundraising stakeholders and legislators.

Investigate cases where fundraising practices have led to significant public concern.

Adjudicate complaints from the public about fundraising practice, where these cannot be resolved by the charities themselves.

Operate a fundraising preference service to enable individuals to manage their contact with charities.

Where poor fundraising practice is judged to have taken place, recommend best practice guidance and take proportionate remedial action.

While many believe the treatment of charities by the UK press has been at times overly critical and misrepresentative, this watchdog, to which the charities themselves have committed, may be an interesting entity to keep an eye on. We are also reminded it has been a while since we have seen a public confidence poll for the U.S. social sector.—Ruth McCambridge