The Charities Regulator today published a comprehensive set of fundraising guidelines for charities, which aim to enable trustees to protect their charities’ reputations and boost public trust and confidence in their organisations.

The guidelines, which were launched by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Mr Michael Ring, establish a clear infrastructure for charities raising funds from the public. "These guidelines will assist the trustees of each charity to run their organisation effectively, avoiding difficulties in respect of fundraising activities and complying with their legal duties," Charities Regulator Chief Executive John Farrelly said.

The guidelines cover a wide range of issues, from donors and donations, to the responsibilities of trustees, management and fundraisers, to financial transparency and accountability. The guidelines are based on the principles of respect, honesty and integrity and transparency and accountability.

They set out clear steps to ensure all charity fundraising:

  • Respects the rights and dignity of donors, beneficiaries and the public;
  • Occurs in an honest and truthful manner where fundraisers act with integrity and do not misrepresent the charity, its need for funds, or how they will be applied;
  • Operate in an open, frank and honest way ensuring that transactions, operations, information and communications are easily understood by donors and the public alike.

The Charities Regulator will monitor how trustees apply these guidelines within their specific charity.

"As with all our work, the Charities Regulator will ensure we are balanced and proportionate in our actions," Mr Farrelly said. "As a responsive regulator we will ensure a ‘right touch’, proportionate and targeted approach using our dedicated procedures for receiving solicited and unsolicited information."

Charities in Ireland range greatly in terms of their size and activities. The trustees of each charity should consider and decide how best to apply these guidelines to their particular circumstances, Mr Farrelly said.

"We will require the trustees of each registered Irish charity to be able to explain and justify their approach to fundraising from the public, particularly if they decide not to follow good practice as set out in these guidelines," Mr Farrelly said.

The Charities Regulator engaged in extensive consultation as part of the process of drawing up the guidelines. In February 2016 the Charities Regulator established a Consultative Panel on Charitable Fundraising at the request of the Tánaiste and then Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald. Its membership included people from the legal, fundraising and charities sector. As part of their deliberations, the panel engaged in national consultation process during the Autumn of 2016 to get the public’s views on fundraising.

The panel’s report was also launched by Minister Ring yesterday, having been presented to the Charities Regulator in June. Among its recommendations were that there should be a measured approach to charitable fundraising which should, in the first instance, consist of guidelines produced by the Charities Regulator. It recommended that the efficacy of these guidelines should be reviewed within three years of their issue.

The fundraising guidelines are the latest in a series of guidance documents produced by the Charities Regulator for charities. In July, guidelines were produced on the responsibilities of trustees and internal financial controls (see note to the Editor below).

Further guidance documents will published in the coming months as part of the Charities Regulator’s work to support good governance, management and administration in Irish charities.

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