ECNL Publishes Report Says Nothing New – Charitable Fundraisers To Be More Accountable to Beneficiaries

The ECNL (European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law) published a report on 19th November 2019 “Fundraising self-regulation:  An Analysis and Review” co-authored by Ian MacQuillin, Adrian Sargeant and Harriet Day who work for Rogare and Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy.  The report promises a lot and delivers nothing new. 

The purpose of the report is to support drafting a set of principles of statutory regulation and self-regulation on fundraising.   There lies the first problem because the report focuses on self-regulation.

The objectives of the report include:  

  • Map key principles and standards on fundraising covered by self-regulation
  • Assess trends in self-regulation
  • Identify areas where existing self-regulation has a special relevance
  • Assess whether donors’ rights are used to develop self-regulation
  • Identify compliance mechanisms in operation and assess effectiveness
  • Determine good practices of measuring success and effective implementation of self-regulation
  • Track how self-regulation impacts the various CSOs (Civil Society Organisations)
  • Identify synergies between self-regulation and legislation

The report is shining example of how to conduct a literature review with a bit of a nod to asking a few friends what their views are with some questions thrown in that  could easily be  answered by a quick internet search.  Participants of the interviews included 8 funding associations, 8 regulatory bodies, 5 fundraising practitioners and a centre for innovation and social entrepreneurship. 

The conclusions and recommendations are flimsy such that I cannot be bothered to recite these.  There is a link to the report at the end of this article.  Read it and make up your own mind. 

As is mentioned in report, starting at page 55, the terrible consequences to poppy seller, Olive Cooke aged 92, who took her own life in 2015 with the media blaming aggressive fundraising practices by charities.  Go down any busy high street in towns and cities on any Saturday and you will find young people, working for charities and probably not for much money, stopping people going about their business and fundraising.  You have to admire their enthusiasm and good cheer, however that is self-regulation at its worst, in my view. 

This practice even raises questions about the pay and conditions of those young people representing charities in cold damp weather.  I dread to think what they get paid or do not get in benefits. 

The report claims that the UK has the best practices in terms of fundraising practices by charities.  Being compared to poor standards is not something to be proud of.  It is time for regulation.  It is time for a body to put some serious effort into producing some credible evidence of need for change and for a public body to take responsibility for some real change in how fundraising practices are carried out world- wide.

The report can be found here