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Fundraising practice under review!

Sean Davey, Development Director at Reigate Grammar School, looks at how schools will respond to proposed changes to the new fundraising regulation.

Posted on: 14 Mar 2016
Posted by: Sean Davey

Last summer, the government commissioned Sir Stuart Etherington, CEO of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), to carry out a review of fundraising practice in the UK. In September, the Etherington Review (Regulating fundraising for the future: trust in charities, confidence in fundraising regulation) was published and it recommended significant changes to the way charities fundraise and the way these practices are regulated. The government accepted Etherington’s recommendations in full, although these are yet to be implemented.

So what is the significance of this report to schools’ fundraising? Well, there has been a significant growth in the number of development offices in UK Schools. In 2015, schools raised £150m in charitable income, an increase of 15% from the previous year. More and more schools are hiring fundraising professionals to raise income to improve facilities, expand bursary programmes and to allow independent education to be more affordable.

The key question every governor and senior management team might consider asking itself is whether their school can comply with the proposed new regulations. Sir Stuart Etherington has made it quite clear that, once implemented, there will be no exceptions to the new regulations.

The Etherington Review recommended that “trustee boards [i.e. school governing bodies] should:

  • Regularly review their charity’s fundraising processes and compliance with the Code of Fundraising Practice, and not simply whether targets have been met. -Ensure regular attendance of senior fundraising staff at their meetings.
  • Include fundraising activity on the risk register and manage it accordingly.
  • Treat compliance with the law on consumer consent to direct marketing as a board-level issue in the context of corporate risk and consumer trust….”

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act has gone through Parliament and is now awaiting Royal Assent. The bill recommends that charity trustees “set out in their annual reports their approach to fundraising, and in particular how they ensure the protection of vulnerable people”.

The Charity Commission (which governs charities in England and Wales) is about to publish its revised guidance on trustees’ fundraising duties, but in its draft, states that:

"You and your co trustees are legally responsible for making sure that your charity’s fundraising is carried out in compliance with your legal trustee duties…. Key to meeting your legal trustee duties is operating effective control over:

  • Your charity’s fundraising plan
  • The fundraising which other people carry out for your charity
  • The assets and resources you use and raise
  • How your fundraising is explained to your supporters and the public"

So how can a school be sure that its fundraising staff are complying with the proposed regulations?

The Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) supports the majority of state and independent schools in the UK which are fundraising professionally. IDPE has been working hard, on behalf of schools, to represent the needs of the sector and to ensure that the voice of schools is heard as the new fundraising landscape begins to take shape.

Professional fundraising in schools is an emerging sector in the UK. In the last decade, the number of school development offices opening has trebled. In addition to offering members training, support and resources, IDPE has been working with other organisations that will be affected by the proposed new regulations and updating members on the latest developments. IDPE has joined forces with the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) to launch the first qualification in schools’ development, the IDPE and IoF Certificate in Fundraising . It is for development professionals who have been working in schools from between 18 months to four years. By studying for the Certificate, members can improve their understanding of fundraising and professional codes as well as strengthen their institutions’ fundraising practice. The IDPE and IoF Certificate in Fundraising is a vocational course with students carrying out work-based assignments. It takes between six-nine months to complete and the first course starts in April.

I have one member of my team signed-up and another preparing her application. Schools cannot afford to be left out in the dark about the impending changes to fundraising regulation: invest in your staff to ensure that your school operates its fundraising legally, ethically and professionally.

For more information about the IDPE and IoF Certificate in Fundraising, see here. To register, please click here.


  • Please note the legislation quoted here applies only to charities in England and Wales. The Scottish Fundraising Working Group has launched a public consultation on three options for fundraising regulation in Scotland. The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published a briefing paper to explain how the new regulatory framework affects charities in Northern Ireland.
  • ‘”Trustee” means a charity trustee. Charity trustees are the people responsible for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. The charity’s governing document may call them trustees, the board, the management committee, governors, directors, or something else. The Charities Act defines the people who have ultimate control of a charity as the charity trustees, whatever they are called in the charity’s governing document.’ (Charity Commission consultation document: Charity fundraising: a guide to trustee duties, p27)


About Sean Davey

Sean Davey is Development Director at Reigate Grammar School, a co-educational day school founded in 1675.