Ensuring confidence in online giving
Online fundraising platforms have made an enormous difference to charity fundraising and give the public an easy and accessible way of supporting the causes they care about – particularly as an immediate response to an emergency situation.
There has also been a massive growth in crowdfunding done for non-charitable causes (where the money goes to a campaign, individual or ‘good cause’ that isn’t officially a registered charity).
Last year, for example, we saw a hugely generous public response to the high-profile incidents that took place in both London and Manchester. However, in some cases, questions were also raised about how the money raised through these online fundraising pages would reach the people that donors wanted to help – particularly where a charity had not been named. Media stories and public concern brought to the forefront that there were no existing rules in the Code of Fundraising Practice which specifically addressed this increasingly popular method of fundraising.
In light of this, following a public consultation in February (which we responded on behalf of our members), the Fundraising Regulator has added new rules to the Code of Fundraising Practice. These changes, among other things, will require online platforms to meet the same levels of transparency required of other organisations associated with charitable giving. For non-legal requirements, fundraising platforms have an implementation period until the end of August 2018 to comply with the new rules.
Alongside the updates to the Code of Fundraising Practice, the Fundraising Regulator has developed guidance for online giving platforms to help them meet the expected standards. This includes providing advice for donors, outlining what they can expect, how to give safely online – including how to identify fraudulent causes – and how to report any issues they encounter. Guidance has also been produced to help the general public who want to raise funds using these platforms to ensure they do not inadvertently breach the Code and that they consider how funds will reach the intended beneficiaries.
Ensuring that people have the right information when they make donations or set up fundraising pages is really important, so we’re pleased to see the Fundraising Regulator update the Code and provide guidance to platforms on the information that should be provided. It’s also great to see that the Fundraising Regulator has taken such a collaborative approach here, taking on feedback through consultation and working closely with the online platforms to make sure the new guidance is fit for purpose.
We hope that these changes to the Code will enable giving to continue to grow and maintain confidence in fundraising through online platforms, as well as wider public trust in fundraising as a whole.
Stephanie Siddall, Policy Manager at the Institute of Fundraising