13 July 2020 | Comment | Article by Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu

Public fundraising: how and when is it likely to return?

New guidance has recently been published by the Fundraising Regulator and Institute of Fundraising, setting out information to support charities in their return to public fundraising activities, while maintaining social distancing. It will be the first in a series of guides published on fundraising and what the “new normal” will look like - given that some form of social distancing is likely to be with us for a while to come. This has come as welcome news to the sector, as restrictions across the nations of the UK change.  

The guidance is helpfully split into two distinct parts:

1) The overarching principles applicable to all forms of charity fundraising

2) Specific advice for public fundraisers

While the advice is intended to complement the existing government guidance and restrictions, it essentially provides the framework to allow good decision making to implement responsible fundraising.

For example, charities should properly document their decision to return to fundraising, continuously undertaking risk assessments given the easing of restrictions and, if necessary, to explain and justify the decisions taken. An inclusive approach is encouraged, so charities are advised to consult with their key stakeholders, for example staff and volunteers, before embarking on any fundraising. 

Organisations are also encouraged to review the restrictions in place in their prospective fundraising ventures, as the restrictions vary between the devolved administrations. For example, in England, social distancing has been reduced to 1m, while in Wales it currently remains set at 2m. Accordingly, for a nationwide charity, different practices may have to be implemented in different countries, with separate risk assessments and written reasoning prepared. Either way, some form of public fundraising cannot return under the current restrictions, such as mass participant events. Ultimately, the guidance stresses that fundraising should only return when charities are satisfied that it can be done safely and where the risks are properly managed.

Fundraising is a key source of income for many charities: while all charities would have been impacted by COVID-19, recent research shows that charities with an income of over £10m were worst affected, as shops were forced to close and events were unably cancelled. In April 2020, fundraising was down 63% compared to March, which itself was down 30% compared to March 2019. Given the significance of fundraising to all charities, the guidance is a must-read for all organisations wishing to return to these activities and events. 


About the Author

Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu is an Associate in the Contested Wills, Trusts and Estates team, having joined in 2011. He spent twelve months training in the department before qualifying in September 2014. Vlad gained experience assisting with a variety of contentious probate matters including challenging and defending will disputes, Inheritance Act claims, estate administration disputes and equitable claims including proprietory estoppel. Vlad acts for a wide variety of client including individuals, trust corporations and banks. Vlad also supports the firm’s offering within the charities sector. He has experience of advising charity clients on contentious trust and probate matters. 

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