This is a collection of blogs looking at the the ethics of fundraising regulation.
Click here to return to the main page listing blogs on other areas of fundraising ethics.
Review of fundraising ethics must precede major changes to the code
A “systematic review” of fundraising’s professional ethics is needed before any major review of the Code of Fundraising Practice in England and Wales is made, a new paper published in the Journal of Business Ethics argues.
“There is a very real danger that primacy in ethical decision making will be given to the stakeholder group with the greatest capacity to influence the regulator rather than the full range of stakeholders that should properly be considered in this context”
Accountability to beneficiaries requires change of ethos among fundraising regulators
Organisations that regulate fundraising need to move away from a ‘consumer protection ethos’ to ensure that charities can be more accountable to their beneficiaries, Rogare’s evidence to a parliamentary enquiry says.
“Beneficiaries’ interests have not featured in the deliberations of fundraising regulators because those regulators have adopted a ‘consumer protection’ ethos.”
The donor is always right, part 1 – is being a donor the same thing as being a consumer?
The donor is always right, part 2 – does it lead to donor correctness gone mad?
In a two-part blog, Rogare’s director Ian MacQuillin argues that it’s beneficiaries, not donors, who are a charity’s true consumers, which throws a different complexion on how fundraising ought to be regulated.
“I find it hard to see how charities should be required to reduce their own marketing because commercial marketers are causing discomfort. In this case, doesn’t a principle of fairness simply state that it’s the commercial marketers who should be subject to stricter regulation, not charities?”
Does the ICO have ‘unreasonable’ expectations about wealth screening?
The UK’s data protection regulator has fined two charities over how they have ‘wealth screened’ current and future donors. Ian MacQuillin ask whether the Information Commissioner’s Office is treating charities differently to companies.
“Aside form the question of how the ICO knows what millions of people think about how charities use the money they donate, this is absolutely diddly squat to do with the ICO; it’s simply none of their business.”
The philosophical dispute between data protection and wealth screening
Fundraisers and data protection experts appear to have very little common ground on which to talk about ICO’s recent enforcement action. Ian MacQuillin suggests the gulf between the two could be down to different philosophical approaches.
“It is by no means self-evident that the disamenity to data subjects of a charity wealth screening its database outweighs the benefit of the aid that wealth screening delivers to beneficiaries, provided it is done lawfully by the charity.”
A round-up of all blogs exploring issues relating to the Information Commissioner’s Office action against two UK charities in December can be found on Critical Fundraising.
Disentangling facts and value in the UK’s wealth screening controversy
Regulators have imposed values on their regulatory practice, claims Ian MacQuillin, that are not intrinsic in the official rules.
“Whether it is right or wrong that charities ‘exploit’ their donors (however you choose to interpret ‘exploit’ in this context) is a very interesting ethical question. But providing they ‘exploit’ their donors in a way that is compliant with the data protection legislation, it is of absolutely no concern to the data protection regulator, acting as a data protection regulator.”
ICO ruling on telephone fundraising is ethically-unbalanced regulation
The ICO’s recent ruling on contacting TPS-registered donors is ethically-unbalanced regulation that potentially harms beneficiaries, argues Ian MacQuillin.
“Does the harm to beneficiaries that would be avoided by allowing charities to contact donors to ask permission to contact them in the future for fundraising purposes, outweigh the harm done to donors by receiving such a call?”
How the Olive Cooke tragedy affects fundraising ethics and self-regulation
The tragic suicide of Olive Cooke obviously has implications for fundraising ethics. Ian MacQuillin digs below the media hysteria to indentify what the real issues are, and suggest how the fundraising profession should respond.
“If change is needed, charities need to want to change they way the acquire donors, not just change a few things, such as the size of the opt-out box, because the self-regulatory bodies have told them to do it.”
Where is the voice of the beneficiary?
The current debate about charity regulation is progressing without listening to the voices of one of its most important stakeholders. Zoë Bunter asks why no-one is considering what the effect will be on beneficiaries.
“Charity is a relationship – giver to receiver, receiver to giver. If one voice is missing then we do not have the complete picture.”