18 March 2019 | Comment | Article by Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu

The new legacy bequest notification service and new guidance for charities on telephone fundraising

On 5 March 2019, the first meeting of Her Majesty Court’s and Tribunal Service working group met to discuss the new legacy bequest notification landscape. This is following the news that notice has been given on the Smee & Ford contract, which provides charities with a paid for notification service to alert them to bequests in wills which are put to probate.

A public record of that meeting will soon be circulated; but so far, the tentative sounds and steps appear positive for the charitable sector.

Ed Owen, director of communications for the working group recognised the “vital importance of legacies in funding charitable work and the need for continuity of service beyond the end of the Smee & Ford’s current notice period.

The Institute of Legacy Management, a member of the working group, indicate that a wide range of options would now be considered before the next meeting. The Smee & Ford contract will come to an end in July 2019. The positive progress made will come as welcome news for the charitable sector, especially as legacy income accounts for nearly a third of all income across the third sector, growing year on year.

While legacy income is vital for the third sector, traditional fundraising remains a staple revenue source for charities. To help support telephone campaigns, the Institute of Legacy Management has recently issued guidance on the subject.

Telephone campaigns represent an opportunity to, not only find and reach new supporters, but also provide a key and human way to say “thank you” to donors for their continued support. However, they also represent potential pitfalls for charities if information and data is not properly captured or protected. Given the stringent rules regarding data protection and unsolicited marketing calls, the flowcharts within the guidance provide useful and practical resources to fundraising professionals.

The Fundraising Regulator has recently demonstrated that it will exercise its full power where it establishes a breach of the fundraising code. For example, on 7 February 2019, due to serious concerns raised that departed from established convention, the Fundraising Regulator published and named a charity it investigated: the International Liberty Association (ILA) who assists the victims of human rights abuses and promotes the respect of human rights in the Middle East.

Complaints had been made by members of the public about the ILA’s volunteers’ methods: examples included volunteers, acting in pairs, placing undue pressure on people they visited, seeking large sums of money (up to £11,000) and even suggested that they take out a loan if they could not afford the donation. While the ILA’s “highly emotive” cause instilled passion in its volunteers, the ILA’s fundraising model relied on volunteer fundraisers for a large proportion of its income: it lacked professional input. It meant the charity trustees were directly accountable for its fundraising, to include ensuring that its volunteers understood the fundraising standards. Recommendations were therefore made to the ILA, with the Fundraising Regulator monitoring their compliance.

Given the need to maintain trust in fundraising, and in in a further sign of the strength, the Fundraising Regulator, from 1 March 2019, will name organisations in all investigations it undertakes, whether or not the complaint is upheld.

 

Update as of 5 July 2019

Roman Kubiak and Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu recently recorded a charities podcast on the update about the bequest notification service from Smee & Ford. Tune in to the podcast to find out more

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