Phil Redhead looks at the latest wave of regulations affecting charities and concludes that there will be an increased demand for lawyers, especially in compliance.
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New charity fundraising regulations drive up demand for lawyers

Posted by: Philip Redhead 25/07/16

The ‘Regulating Fundraising for the Future’ report commissioned by the British government and published in September 2015, was not only highly critical of the UK’s charitable fundraising regulatory environment, but also concluded that its presiding regulatory body, the Fundraising Standards Board, should be shut down and replaced by a more effective outfit able to impose more stringent standards.

The ‘Fundraising Regulator’ was established in January 2016, and subsequently assumed regulatory responsibility in July 2016, in response to the review’s recommendations and the widespread public concern over the way in which charities interact with donors. Long-standing concerns were exacerbated by the events surrounding the death of pensioner Olive Cooke in May 2015, which also highlighted data privacy as a major regulatory concern.

In measures to safeguard the independence of fundraising regulation, full responsibility for the Code of Fundraising Practice was transferred to the new Fundraising Regulator. The Fundraising Standards Board was previously criticised for adjudicating against standards set by charities themselves via their trade body, the Institute of Fundraising. The revised ‘Code’ clearly highlights both the legal requirements of charities and issues which will be dealt with as requisite professional standards by the regulator.

The code makes continuous and explicit reference to the compliance of charities with data protection laws and duties of confidentiality; an area of law more prominent now for a number of organisations, especially those within the third sector. The new regulator will hold responsibility for adjudicating complaints about charities and taking proportionate remedial action.

These new regulatory changes will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the demand for in house lawyers with experience in these areas, with a key challenge being attracting candidates from a limited field. I think it is highly likely that we will see an enlargement of compliance teams within charities whose fundraising practices are most affected by the changing regulatory landscape; with an increase in recruitment activity for donor compliance officers and managers.

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