The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PASC), the parliamentary body with overall responsibility for charity regulation, has announced the key areas of its inquiry into fundraising practices and has issued a call for evidence. The call for evidence provides an important opportunity for charities and other interested parties to comment on current fundraising practices and the proposed changes to the law.

Bernard Jenkin MP, chair of the PASC, announced the investigation into fundraising practices on 8 July, commenting that charity leaders will be called before the committee in the autumn and warning that MPs are likely to recommend fresh legislation to regulate fundraising. The announcement came in the wake of the Daily Mail’s undercover investigation into fundraising agency GoGen.

The PASC has now confirmed that the inquiry will focus predominantly on four key areas:

  • the extent and nature of practices adopted by call centres raising funds for charities and the impact on members of the public, particularly vulnerable people
  • the government’s recently proposed legislative changes on this issue
  • how charities came to adopt these methods, and how they maintained proper governance over what was being done on their behalf
  • the leadership of charities and how their values are reflected in their actions and activities

The call for evidence requests information both about the extent of poor fundraising practice, and about the effect of proposed legislative changes in a series of supplementary questions.

The PASC inquiry is one of several recent developments in relation to the regulation of fundraising. Following concerns about call centres contracted by charities to raise funds and the impact of fundraising on vulnerable people, the government has introduced new provisions to address this in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill currently going through Parliament. The new provisions in the Bill amend the Charities Act 1992 to add a requirement for a contract between a professional fundraiser or commercial participator and a charity to include:

  • details of any voluntary scheme for regulating fund-raising, or any voluntary standard of fund-raising, that the professional fund-raiser or commercial participator undertakes to comply with;
  • how the professional fund-raiser or commercial participator is to protect vulnerable people and other members of the public from certain behaviour – which is defined to include “unreasonable intrusion on a person’s privacy”, “unreasonably persistent approaches for the purpose of soliciting or otherwise procuring money or other property” and “placing undue pressure on a person to give money or other property” and
  • arrangements enabling the charitable institution to monitor compliance with the above.

The Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson MP, has also asked Sir Stuart Etherington to carry out a review of the current system of fundraising self-regulation. This will run in tandem with the PASC inquiry and Sir Stuart’s review will report back to Rob Wilson, in mid-September with any recommendations it makes for further legislation.

The PASC call for evidence is an important opportunity for charities and other interested parties to comment on current fundraising practices and the proposed changes to the law. Anyone may submit written evidence of up to 3000 words to the committee. The deadline is noon on Wednesday 26 August 2015 and an evidence session will be held in early September. For more information, please click here

If you would like advice or wish to discuss the impact of the proposed changes in the legislation, please contact Stephanie Biden, a partner in BWB’s charity team.

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Stephanie Biden

Partner and Joint Head of Faith-Based Organisations

+44(0)20 7551 7730

View full information about Stephanie Biden

Posted on 23/07/2015 in Legal Updates

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