Charity and nonprofit fundraisers are embracing FIA’s training course for the recently-introduced industry code of conduct, Andrew Sadauskas reports.

Fundraisers across Australia are learning about their obligations to the public.

Fundraising Institute of Australia has reached a key milestone in the implementation of its voluntary industry code for fundraising, with more than 1,000 people enrolling in a web-based training program to learn about their obligations to the public.

All FIA members are required to adhere to the code, which commits them to ethical, truthful, accurate, open and transparent conduct towards donors, beneficiaries and suppliers.

The code came into force on January 1, following an extensive consultation process in 2017.

Alongside the introduction of the code course, the FIA recently began a six-month trial of random ‘mystery shopper’ spot checks to ensure members are complying with their obligations.

FIA CEO Rob Edwards said interest in the code course reflects its importance to the sector.

“We all know that if we don’t get our house in order, others will do it for us,” Edwards said.

“FIA’s new code, monitored by a code authority, aims to enhance donor confidence in the sector to ensure its long-term sustainability and continued self-regulation.

“The new FIA code replaces the old 160-page document with four pages of high level principles supplemented by detailed practice notes on issues such as dealing with people in vulnerable circumstances, workplace giving, fundraising supplier agreements, code training requirements and others.”

The code obligates members to not accept a donation where they have a reasonable belief that the donor is in vulnerable circumstances or lacks the capacity to make a decision to donate.

The rules are designed to protect disadvantaged members of the community, including low-income earners, from unscrupulous practices.

The code also requires that FIA members must:

  • Adhere to an accountability principle, whereby a Board member or CEO signs off their adherence to the code.
  • Agree to have their adherence to the code monitored by the code authority. The code authority has powers ranging from sanctioning members to terminating FIA membership if in serious breach of the code.
  • Adhere to training requirements, whereby all new fundraising staff undertake code training within six months of their appointment.
  • Follow a ‘stewardship principle’. For example: if asked, members must assist donors to stop receiving solicitations.
  • Adhere to a supply chain principle, whereby they are accountable for code breaches by their suppliers.
  • Adhere to a proportionality principle, whereby supplier costs are proportionate to funds raised and represent fair market value.

The milestone comes at a time of considerable change and renewal within FIA, which recently appointed James Garland as its new chair as part of a major boardroom overhaul. The peak fundraising industry body is also searching for a new CEO and has hired March One Fundraising to assist with its rebranding efforts.

With over 1,500 members, Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) is the largest representative body for the $12.5 billion fundraising sector which is supported by some 14.9 million Australians. FIA members include charities and other fundraising not-for-profits operating domestically and internationally, as well as the organisations and professionals that provide services to them. FIA advocates for the interests of the sector, administers a self-regulatory code, educates fundraising practitioners, promotes research, and creates forums for the exchange of knowledge and ideas.

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