Code overhaul – what you need to know
Last week, the Fundraising Regulator announced a 10-week consultation on a new draft of the Code of Fundraising Practice. It’s been referred to as ‘an overhaul of the code’ by some, but fret not – you aren’t about to be asked to conform to a dramatic new set of fundraising standards. Instead, the consultation focuses on the style, presentation, clarity and accessibility of the code.
And it’s a logical next step in the evolution of the code, which had its last major change in 2012 when we at the IoF consolidated 28 separate codes of practice into one code, designed to exhibit four values – legal, honest, open and respectful.
That exercise was led by the IoF with invaluable input from hundreds of our members and volunteers. And that was always key to developing the code – engagement with the fundraising community.
When we transferred stewardship of the code to the new Fundraising Regulator in the summer of 2016, we did so knowing that a refresh would be on the cards. The Fundraising Regulator has rightly spent the last few years refining areas of the code that needed immediate attention, while hosting roundtables with smaller charities, conversations with relevant regulators and listening to the views of fundraisers and the public.
It has now decided that the code needs a major overhaul, to ensure that both fundraisers and the wider public are able to engage with it confidently and without difficulty. The new draft code proposes substantial changes.
In practice, this has included a new introduction, a reordering of the code from 20 sections into three, the incorporation of the face-to face rulebooks and legal appendices into the code and the removal of information which is either superfluous, repeated elsewhere in the code or provided in detail by another regulator.
What do we think?
As previous proud custodians of the code, our first thoughts on the changes are positive. Over the years it has increased in size and scope and has shown signs of becoming repetitive. Expectations of how we want to engage with the code have changed too, and now is the right time to make it an easier to navigate, mobile-friendly set of rules.
The logic behind the changes are on first impression, sensible. For instance the ‘plain English’ review of the language used in the code could be a positive development. Many fundraisers have expressed frustration with how the current code reads. Making the language of the code more accessible to a wider audience can only be a good thing.
The separation of the general rules and principles applicable to all fundraising from the rules relating to specific fundraising practices is a good example of a change that might work well. Fundraisers has fedback that they were unsure where to start with the reading the code. The changes should help clarify what fundraisers need to focus on regarding their specific fundraising practices, as well as the general rules that affect all fundraisers.
That said, these are early days in the consultation process and it is right to be cautious about endorsing widespread changes before hearing what our members think. We are therefore keen to hear from our members – and the wider fundraising community – before submitting our own response to the consultation.
What we are doing
We will publish a draft version of our response to the consultation in October. To inform our response, we want to get your thoughts on the proposed code changes. You can do this by sending your comments to SamB@Institute-of-Fundraising.org.uk. We have already contacted our special interest groups and public fundraisers to ask for their views.
We are also hosting a small charities summit on the code consultation in our London office on 23 October. This will provide an excellent opportunity for smaller charities to share insights and ask questions. Stephen Service from the Fundraising Regulator will be there to give an overview of the code changes and take questions from attendees. Places are limited. To guarantee your place, get in contact with SamB@Institute-of-Fundraising.org.uk
Sam Boyle, IoF Policy Officer