A new Code of Fundraising Practice: What you need to know (and do)
As the Fundraising Regulator today publishes its newest version of the Code of Fundraising Practice, Sam Boyle, IoF Policy and Information Officer, looks at what fundraisers need to do next.
Today the Fundraising Regulator released a new version of the Code of Fundraising Practice. It’s been a while coming, the consultation on this started in September last year, but it’s a huge piece of work and really important that the changes are properly thought through.
Your first thought when looking at the new Code of Fundraising Practice might be ‘wow this looks different!’ It’s written in plain English, the Public Fundraising rulebooks are now incorporated, and gone are the individual 20 sections dedicated to different areas of fundraising.
But even though it will look different and take a little while to get used to, it’s important to remember that the standards set in the Code have not changed in this new version – so if you were complying with the Code before it was refreshed, you aren’t suddenly going to be breaking all the rules!
The new Code is divided into three sections: Standards which apply to all fundraising, Standards which apply to Working with Others and Standards which apply to Specific Fundraising Methods. You will also notice that the language throughout the Code has changed – the Fundraising Regulator went through a process to try and make it as easy to read and accessible as possible.
The new numbering system is logical and the inclusion of a new introduction, a glossary and the removal of standards where there was repetition, have made it a more streamlined and user- friendly resource. The integration of the fundraising rulebooks into the Code may take some getting used to, but it’s important that face-to-face fundraisers understand their responsibilities in the wider context of the entire Code.
We think most fundraisers will appreciate the changes and find the new document easier to use and work with. We know that there will be a bit of work to get used to it for more experienced fundraisers, but those new to the profession should find a more simple and straightforward Code to work with.
We are also pleased that the Fundraising Regulator has taken on board many of the comments and recommendations we made in our consultation response, and that through the process we have fed in the views of our members to try and make sure the new Code is as useful and accessible as can be. Overhauling the Code was never going to be straightforward and they deserve credit for the hard work they have put in to get this ready.
But you can’t please all of the people, all of the time, and there might be some fundraisers looking at the new Code today who think ‘I knew the old document pretty well, why did the Fundraising Regulator need to go ahead and change it?’
As I mentioned in a previous blog back at the beginning of the consultation process, the decision to overhaul the Code was long overdue. It had evolved incrementally over a number of years and the time was right for a more thorough review.
As the Fundraising Regulator’s remit is wider than the previous system, and more charities become aware of the Code and their responsibilities, we need a Code that can work for everyone in the easiest possible way. Fundraisers often said that they didn’t know where to start when using the old document.
The language used throughout was unnecessarily complex and the Code was overly repetitive. I think that once fundraisers have looked through the new version, and spent a bit of time getting used to the new format and language, most will agree that the changes are positive.
Is there anything I need to do now?
Well first things first, there is no need to panic. Remember, the standards themselves haven’t changed, but they are written in a different way and are presented in a different order.
It is also important to remember that the new Code is not yet officially in use – the previous version of the Code is still in use for the next four months until October. This is a transition period so that you can see the new Code, familiarise yourself with it, and be ready for when the new version is published. That means that if there are any complaints or investigations over this period the Fundraising Regulator and the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel will use the existing Code until the transition period ends.
It’s worth mentioning that this pdf document will not necessarily be the main reference point for most charities using the Code from October onwards. The Fundraising Regulator will be releasing an online version later this year. We do not know what this will look like yet, but we will continue to engage with them over the coming months to see how this develops.
So what will charities need to do over the next four months?
Each charity and fundraiser will need to think about how they use the Code and how to get ready for the transition, but as a starting point of what you might want to do here’s a checklist of what I’d suggest:
- First of all, read the Code! Whilst it will be tempting to skim through the document, the Code has changed a lot in its presentation and it’s important that you know where to find relevant information and how it applies to your fundraising practices. It might be that you have only ever looked at one particular section before, so it’s worth reminding yourself of the overall standards that apply.
- Talk to your colleagues and share it with them – it’s not just fundraisers who need and use the Code – so a new version gives you the chance to share it round to people and make sure that they know that it’s changed as well (plus, that way you’ll look like you are on the ball too!).
- Review your organisational policies and procedures. References to standards in the old Code will need to be updated and your colleagues will need up to date information. Think about where you refer to the Code now – fundraising policies, fundraisers inductions, training materials – as well as in contracts with partners and third parties – will all need updating.
At the Institute of Fundraising, we want to help charities and fundraisers prepare for these changes. We will be working hard to make sure that both our members, and the wider fundraising community have the support they need.
From producing guidance to signposting, we want to make sure that charities and other fundraising organisations are prepared for the new Code going live later this year.
But in the mean time we want to hear from you if there are any points that you would like to raise or if anything is unclear. If you have any questions about the changes, get in touch with me at SamB@Institute-of-Fundraising.org.uk.
Sam Boyle is Policy and Information Officer at the Institute of Fundraising.