During the years of 2022-2024, the Fundraising Regulator is carrying out a review and update of the Code of Fundraising Practice. Whilst the Code of Fundraising Practice is not designed to be a legal handbook, it is, however, intended to reflect the law as it applies to fundraising by charities and third-party fundraisers and promote good practice.  

The Code is subsequently used by the Fundraising Regulator to assess public complaints made about charities registered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and their fundraising practices. For charities registered in Scotland, complaints about a charity's fundraising practices will be dealt with by the Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel.  

The last Code review, largely mimicking the existing version, focused on transparency, length, and the availability of the Code. Taking into account recent technological advancements, changes in legislation and fundraising generally, the Fundraising Regulator has stated a full review of the Code is essential.

The Code is reviewed by a continuous process of engaging with fundraisers, regulatory partners, representatives such as the Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel, the greater public and other stakeholders. Doing so enables the Code to reflect best practice, stay up to date whilst being clear and accessible.

The approach taken by the Fundraising Regulator is to ensure an open discussion is created with fundraisers for the standards that are to be upheld by that sector. Equally, they wish to ensure the public's needs and experiences are voiced, most particularly in relation to those in vulnerable circumstances. 

Timeline of consultation

Phase 1 concerned information gathering taking place in the years of 2022 to 2023. The information gathered sought views on where there could be improvements made to the Code, ensuring it is an effective regulatory framework. This included engagement with other regulators and voluntary sectors who had an interest in charitable fundraising, extending to smaller charities and permitting them to make their views known. This phase also entailed a research gathering exercise into the public's experience and expectations of charitable fundraising aiding in the identification of areas requiring attention.

We are now within phase 2, which involves public consultation. The Code will be amended in line with the feedback gathered through the information gathering phase. In the autumn of this year, a 12-week public consultation will commence, gathering any proposals for amendments to the Code. The Fundraising Regulator has stated that it will publish further information on the process in due course.

Phase 3 follows in 2024. In the early part of next year, an updated Code based on the feedback will be produced. In the autumn of 2024, the new and revised Code will be published on the Fundraising Regulators website with a breakdown of the timeline that .

The relevance of the Code of Fundraising practice to Scotland

OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator, re-iterates that the Code serves to provide and outline the expected standards for fundraising  for Scottish registered charities. It thus remains of practical use and provides for the best practices in this area, despite its non-application in Scotland in its strict sense. Scottish charities should therefore be live to the standards penned in the Code and should ensure their fundraising practices closely mirror what is stated therein. The Scottish Fundraising Adjudication Panel, in making any assessment of fundraising complaints made about Scottish charities, will draw on the Code to make such an assessment.

Part 1 of the current Code deals with the behaviours to follow when fundraising, charitable institutions responsibilities such as their general duties, using funds, their accounting and reporting duties, the processing of personal data, including for the storing/sharing of personal data, and lastly processing donations in the many forms.

Part 2 focuses on the standards which apply when working with others, such as volunteers, where children are involved in fundraising, and commercial participators.

The last part of the Code, part 3, provides standards applying to specific fundraising activities, including collecting money or other property, fundraising through communications and advertisements, digital, events and lotteries, grant-making bodies, payroll and post-tax donations as well as that in legacies.

We will be able to further comment on the changes to the new Code after the consultation is over and the new standards are published paving the way for even greater fundraising practices across the UK.

This article was co-written by Arina Yazdi, Trainee Solicitor.