Response: fundraising code of practice

In January 2018, the Fundraising Regulator launched a consultation on parts of the fundraising code of practice.

Summary of ACEVO’s response

The proposed amends to sections 1.6 and 8.2.3 of the fundraising code of practice are a welcome and positive step towards a code that is clear, unambiguous and enabling. ACEVO welcomes these changes, and is largely in agreement with the consultation.

There are a few areas on which we would like clarification. We believe that some of the proposed wording could be construed as ambiguous, and would like the Regulator to use language which helps users understand how to achieve a certain outcome, rather than focusing on the outcome itself. (For example, the proposed “fair, proportional and appropriate” in 1.6 are descriptions of outcome; they do not suggest how this outcome can be achieved.)

For further information, please contact policy@acevo.org.uk or 020 7014 4600.

ACEVO’s response to parts A&B of the consultation on the code of fundraising practice

Part A – complaints handling

Current rules:

1.6 Complaints and concerns

a) Organisations MUST have a complaints procedure which MUST also apply to any Third Parties fundraising on their behalf.
b) Organisations MUST respond to any complaints from donors, beneficiaries or other parties in a timely, respectful, open and honest way.
c) Organisations MUST ensure that the learnings from any complaints are acted upon.

Proposed revised wording (amendments in italics, deletions are struckthrough):

1.6 Complaints and concerns

a) Organisations MUST have a clear and publically available complaints procedure which MUST also apply to any Third Parties fundraising on their behalf.
b) When dealing with complaints organisations MUST ensure that:
i) complaints are investigated thoroughly and objectively to establish the facts of the case, avoiding undue delay; and
ii) complaints are responded to fairly, proportionately and appropriately.
c) Organisations MUST regularly review any lessons to be learnt from complaints and use that learning to inform future fundraising activity.

1. Does the proposed revised wording for the rules contained in 1.6 of the Code explain what is required of organisations regarding complaints? Yes / No (If no, please explain your reasoning)

1.6. a) While we recognise that relationships with “Third Parties” are covered in section 4 of the code, to ensure no confusion or ambiguity it would be helpful if this section could be signposted to when referring to “Third Parties” in 1.6.

1.6. i) It is unclear what the code means when it specifies that complaints are to be investigated “objectively”. An objective investigation could indicate the need for an external investigator, as those within an organisation could never be deemed to be fully objective. It would be helpful for the Regulator to set out the means by which an “objective” investigation can be achieved.

1.6 ii) We welcome the proposed change to the wording in 1.6 to remove overly emotive terms such as “respectful” and “honest”, and agree with the Regulator’s assessment that the current wording unfairly implies that organisations have been intentionally dishonest when not responding to complaints fully.

However, we would like the guidance to provide more information on what is meant by “fairly, proportionately and appropriately”, as these terms remain subjective and focus on outcome, rather than on the means by which to achieve a fair and proportional response. It would be more helpful for the Regulator to use terms which suggest how this outcome can be achieved. Some suggestions are: “carefully”, “fully” or “timely”. If the phrase “fairly, proportionately and appropriately” is to be used, it would be helpful for the Regulator to signpost to guidance on how this can be achieved.

The Fundraising Regulator wrote to ACEVO including some draft guidance on complaints handling which will supplement this section of the code. This guidance is very comprehensive and includes further advice on how to respond to complaints. It would be helpful for the Regulator to clarify how this additional guidance will be signposted to in section 1.6.

2. Are there any other comments you wish to make on the proposed revised wording?

N/A.

Part B – TPS compliance auditing

Current rule:

8.2.3 The Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) allows individuals or companies to register their telephone numbers to indicate that they do not wish to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls…

…d) Telephone fundraising agencies carrying out fundraising calls on behalf of a charity MUST have an up to date TPS Assured certification or be in the process of applying.

Proposed revised wording of the introduction to TPS (amendments in italics deletions are struck through):

8.2.3 The Telephone Preference Service

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) allows individuals or companies to register their telephone numbers to indicate that they do not wish to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls.

It is important that organisations take steps to audit their compliance with the legal requirements regarding TPS. TPS Assured is a recognised accreditation scheme that organisations can use to demonstrate their compliance…

…d) Telephone fundraising agencies carrying out fundraising calls on behalf of a charity MUST have an up to date TPS Assured certification or be in the process of applying.

  1. Do you agree that the Code of Fundraising Practice should not mandate the use of the TPS assured accreditation scheme for all organisations and therefore remove rule 8.2.3?

Yes. The code of fundraising practice should not mandate the use of the TPS assured accreditation scheme for all organisations and therefore 8.2.3d should be removed, as other accreditation schemes can provide the same assurance.

2. Do you agree that the proposed additional wording in the introduction to 8.2.3 draws sufficient attention to the need for organisations to audit compliance with TPS?

This question asks if the proposed change “draws sufficient attention to the need for organisations to audit compliance with TPS”. But the proposed addition to 8.2.3 states that “it is important that organisations take steps to audit their compliance with the legal requirements regarding TPS”. If, as the question suggests, organisations need to audit compliance with TPS, it would be better for the proposed addition to reflect that. This would avoid potential confusion, as “important to take steps” and “need to take steps” are two different requirements. A suggested change could be:

Organisations need to take steps to audit their compliance with the legal requirements regarding TPS. TPS Assured is a recognised accreditation scheme that organisations can use to demonstrate their compliance…

3. Are there any other comments you wish to make on the proposed revised wording?

N/A.

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