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Why Charities Should Act Now to Avoid a £25k Fine

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Charities are urged to make themselves aware of new rules that could see them fined up to £25k for pestering donors.

hlw Keeble Hawson logoThe recently launched Fundraising Preference Service gives members of the public the right to demand that charities stop telephoning, texting or emailing them fundraising messages. Organisations will receive a warning from the regulator, which, if not heeded, will be referred to the information watchdog, who can impose the heavy penalty.

As the implications will be painful for all charities that breach the regulations - and potentially crippling for smaller ones - we advise taking on board the following considerations:

Every charity is urged to get a handle on the changes as soon as possible – we have found a widespread lack of knowledge of the new rules and the penalties for not adhering to them. Addressing the issue now will avoid the expense and reputational damage of a heavy fine.

Charities with large scale public fundraising will be required to make the most changes to their current practices - not just in the new procedures required, but also because changes could impact heavily on data protection requirements. All contacts (there may be hundreds of thousands), must hold a record of whether they have opted in or opted out. An informal rule that has been almost universally adopted is that data must be updated every two years if original consents were obtained via the telephone preference service. This is recommended but can incur substantial resource and cost.

Charities that relied heavily on their ethical fundraising in promotional material will lose this selling point, since the changes will force everyone to abide by them. This means that they would be wise to review and refresh their key marketing messages to maintain public awareness of their points of difference.

A major challenge for many charitable organisations is the sheer volume and complexity of the regulatory changes - another area of compliance they must navigate. It is therefore a good idea to seek the advice of a legal practice with a strong reputation for its expertise in the third sector.

hlw Keeble Hawson’s dedicated, experienced team provides specialist and comprehensive advice for charities and voluntary organisations and has presented Trustee training courses.

The next event, ‘Fundraising in a changing climate’, held in partnership with the Small Charities Coalition, will shed light on today’s fundraising landscape, charities’ options and important regulations. It will cover recent controversial fundraising tactics; the countdown to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), how to fundraise without incurring heavy fines (covering GDPR) along with available fundraising routes and legacy campaigns.

The workshop will be held at our Leeds office, on Russell Street, from 08.30 to 11:00, Tuesday 19th September. For further details and to reserve your place: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fundraising-in-a-changing-climate-tickets-33528541771.

For more information on Trustees’ responsibilities and every aspect of charity law, contact Michele Todd at micheletodd@hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk or call 0114 290 620.

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