Fundraising Regulator: Presidents Club scandal highlights ‘important lessons’ for charities

The Presidents Club scandal highlights a number of ‘important lessons’ for other charities after trustees were found to have had “little awareness” of fundraising expectations, the Fundraising Regulator has said.

The regulator investigated the Presidents Club Charitable Trust following reports of sexual harassment alleged to have taken place in January of this year.

According to the regulator’s findings, there was no real evidence that the charity ignored the code of fundraising, however it “did not have a process in place to monitor the activities of the third party that organised and staffed the event”, which was in itself a breach of the code.

“We were disappointed to see that the Presidents Club and its trustees had little awareness of the expectations around fundraising, namely those outlined in the Code of Fundraising Practice,” the regulator said.

“We think this case highlights important lessons for other charities, particularly regarding the duties of trustees, which is why we are putting the report into the public domain. We hope this will remind organisations, particularly registered charities, of their obligations and the guidance that is available to them when fundraising.”

The Fundraising Regulator said it has not made specific recommendations to the charity going forward because the charity’s trustees are currently in the process of closing the charity with the help of the Charity Commission.

However, it said a “key lesson” from the case is that charities – even those that hold a single, annual fundraising event – have a duty to comply with the requirements and best practice set out in the code.

“The public has a right to expect that fundraising is conducted in a clear and transparent manner, meeting the highest ethical standards,” the regulator’s chief executive, Gerald Oppenheim said.

“This can be blurred when charities commission third parties, however it is the charity’s responsibility to ensure that these parties meet the Code of Fundraising Practice,”

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