The Charity Commission is risking a bust-up with the Fundraising Standards Board after its boss suggested his organisation should be given powers to fine charities amid claims that self-regulation is not working.
In an interview with The Times, Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross said he should oversee all charity marketing, from direct mail and telemarketing to street and door-to-door fundraising, in a move which would lead to the demise of the FRSB.
The self-regulatory approach was deemed the most appropriate model for charity fundraising when the Charities Act 2006 was passed. The FRSB was launched in February 2007, tasked with regulating charity fundraising in line with industry standards.
Following claims that aggressive fundraising was to blame for the suicide of 92-year-old poppy-seller Olive Cook – but since dismissed – the Government will force charities to sign undertakings showing how vulnerable people will be protected from such tactics, in an amendment to the Charities Bill currently going through Parliament. However, there are already concerns about how this can possibly be enforced.
The Government has also commissioned a review of the sector by Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary organisations.
Shawcross told The Times: “The plethora of stories of people being deluged by mailings and harassed by endless telephone calls on behalf of charities are intolerable Charities must listen to what people want and, more importantly, do not want.”
“If he [Etherington] concludes that self-regulation by charities cannot work, then the Government would have to consider whether the Charity Commission should regulate fundraising.
“There is a dilemma for charities,” Shawcross added. “They have to raise money… but they mustn’t be aggressive.”
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