BWB Highlights

On Wednesday last week, the review panel led by Sir Stuart Etherington published their report “Regulating fundraising for the future:  Trust in charities, confidence in fundraising regulation”. See today’s Briefing for details and sector reaction.

In the wake of high profile media reports into charitable fundraising practices, we are holding a seminar which will review the recommendations of the reviews carried out by Sir Stuart Etherington and the Institute of Fundraising. See below for details.

At a glance

HMRC has updated its guidance on charity Gift Aid audits.

PhonepayPlus, the regulator of premium rate telephone services, has updated its guidance on promoting premium-rate services including where they are used as part of charity fundraising.

BIS have published a plain English summary of the key elements of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Social Enterprise UK has published a set of FAQs about B Corps.

Revised “prevent duty” statutory guidance has been published for local authorities and schools.

SCVO has published its own report on fundraising “The effectiveness of the self regulation of fundraising in Scotland: an informal review”.

Charity Commission

Has published:

  • details of a review decision made by the Commission relating to allowing the Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust to join the Trustee board;
  • an operational compliance case report into St Bees School.  The Commission concluded that a decision by the Governors to close the school had been made in good faith, and did not amount to misconduct or mismanagement; and
  • an inquiry report into  Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurudwara, a double defaulting charity.  

Has issued advice, including posters and a video,  about how to give safely during Eid-al-Adha.  

Has opened a statutory inquiry into a Sikh charity, The Central Gurdwara (British Isles) London Khalsa Jatha. The inquiry follows an unsatisfactory outcome to an earlier Commission operational compliance case into the charity to deal with complaints about the lack of adherence to the charity’s financial controls, financial irregularities and governance failures.

Paula Sussex, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, has written this letter to the Public Accounts Committee reporting on the Commission’s progress against the Public Accounts Committee’s recommendations.

Tax and VAT

HMRC has updated its guidance on charity audits to include the following “if HMRC find an unacceptable proportion of Gift Aid donors can’t be traced this may suggest poor record keeping by a charity, inadequate communication with donors or, exceptionally, fraud - these issues would be discussed further with the trustees of the charity.”  BWB’s Bill Lewis comments “There is no tax legal requirement for charities to maintain a minimum level of contact with donors.  Any suggestion of this from HMRC should be strongly resisted”.


On Wednesday last week, the review panel led by Sir Stuart Etherington published their report  “Regulating fundraising for the future:  Trust in charities, confidence in fundraising regulation”.  

As many of you know, the headline recommendations include:

  • replacing the FRSB with a new Fundraising Regulator.  All charities that spend over £100,000 a year on fundraising from the public, around 2,000 organisations, would be expected to contribute to the costs of the regulator.  The new Regulator would set the Code of Fundraising Practice and adjudicate against it. Charities which seriously or persistently breach the rules would be named and shamed and could be forced to halt their fundraising until problems are resolved
  • setting up a new Fundraising Preference Service allowing members of the public to opt out of receiving any fundraising communications at all
  • that the IOF and PFRA merge, but that the regulatory aspects of the PFRA’s current work transfers to the new Fundraising Regulator

To implement the suggested changes, the Review suggests a summit is organised “to bring all parties together and agree the resourcing, transition arrangements and accountability mechanisms for these changes”.   We will report back on any information we find out about this proposed summit or any other next steps to implement these recommendations. 

Responses to the Review report include:

  • statement from the Information Commissioner's Office welcoming the review and saying “We will be producing further guidance looking at the issues of informed consent in relation to fundraising practices and the timescale of valid consent. The guidance will also give a clear indication of our approach to regulatory action.”  
  • the PFRA response includes “A new approach will see compliance rather than regulation become our primary focus."

To promote fundraising training, the Cabinet Office has launched a £100,000 fund and is seeking to appoint between 1 and 3 training providers to deliver training, aimed at charities with income up to £1m.

PhonepayPlus, the regulator of premium rate telephone services, has updated its guidance on promoting premium-rate services to help providers understand the standards set under its 13th code of practice, which came into force on 1 July 2015.  The guidance contains a section on fundraising for charity, which republishes advice previously included in the Fundraising and Charity Donations Guidance under the 12th edition of the code.

Also see items under Scotland below.

Consumer Rights Act 2015

BIS have published a plain English summary of the key elements of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The summary can be downloaded and edited in Word format so that charities and social enterprises can tailor the wording to their own businesses. The guidance also covers the new requirement under the Consumer ADR Regulations (SI 2015/542) that requires traders to provide certain information about ADR to consumers.  BIS has also published a checklist for the Act to help businesses to be sure they are ready for 1 October.  Both the summary and checklist can be accessed by here.

Social investment

City Bridge Trust and UBS are launching the second call for proposals for Stepping Stones Fund with the aim to provide targeted support in the form of grants and risk finance to enterprising organisations that wish to prepare themselves for social investment in order to improve their social outcomes.

Social enterprise

Social Enterprise UK has published this set of FAQs about B Corps.


On 18 September 2015,  revised “prevent duty” statutory guidance came into force  for local authorities and schools (and other specified authorities as listed in Schedule 6 to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Act)).


SCVO has published its own report on fundraising “The effectiveness of the self regulation of fundraising in Scotland:  an informal review”

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, OSCR, has commented on both the SCVO and Sir Stuart’s review here

See above under Fundraising for a link to the Institute of Fundraising’s response to the Scottish review.

Wired To Govern: A trustee's handbook for the digital revolution

Is your charity fully exploiting the potential of the digital transformation? Does your board understand the changes and demands technology makes in communicating with the public, beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and regulators? Have you considered the potential risks, from the loss of beneficiary data to cyber fraud; from reputational damage to the release of misinformation in blogs and emails? How can new technolgies such as board portals, video conferencing and social media transform your traditional governance practices?

Wired to Govern guides charity trustees through all the key considerations, with supporting case studies, checklists and template policies.

Please click here to download the publication.

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Christine Rigby

Senior Consultant

+44(0)20 7551 7712

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Posted on 29/09/2015 in Legal Updates

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