A House of Commons committee has released a report addressing regulation around charity fundraising and has proposed changes that could mean less funding for Lepra and other charities. This could have significant effects on the projects we run overseas.

The report, called ‘The 2015 charity fundraising controversy: lessons for trustees, the Charity Commission, and regulators,’ examines the overall regulation of charity fundraising and the way in which trustees govern it.

It states that more needs to be done to monitor charities’ methods of fundraising so that the general public is further protected. While we agree with most of the proposed changes, a change to data protection regulation could significantly damage small and medium size charities like ourselves.

Incorporated into the report are the opinions of employees and trustees within the UK charity sector, including those of Lepra. We pointed out that those charities that did not employ poor practices, such as cold-calling vulnerable people, could financially suffer the most if this data protection regulation was amended. This is opposed to the larger charities that were found to be using such unethical communication methods last year.

The change would mean that charities would only be able to contact those individuals who had explicitly ‘opted in’ to be contacted, and that could mean small and medium sized charities losing out. This is because charities will be unable to make that initial contact with an individual to give them the opportunity to find out more. While many of the bigger charities are already well-known and have the funds to publicise, smaller charities do not and without the chance to make direct contact they may not receive as many donations. Some charities are estimating losses of up to 50% as a result.

With World Leprosy Day approaching, and with it, an emphasis on the work that still needs to be done in the area of neglected tropical diseases, regulation change could not have come at a worse time.

Sarah Nancollas, our Chief Executive, said: “We do not condone the data breaching practices of other charities, however it is the small and medium sized charities that will be impacted the most by this proposed regulation change, despite the Fundraising Standards Board reporting that 78% of direct mail and 82% of telephone fundraising complaints relate to a few of the larger charities.”

Sarah highlights that this could in fact put more of a strain on statutory resources.

“If charities start to see a decline in the amount of donations they receive as a result of this legislation, then it is likely that they will turn to government funding in order to continue their necessary work. This would mean the responsibility to carry on such vital projects in the UK and overseas, would fall on the British government leaving them to foot the bill. ”

“While we welcome increased regulation, the vital help and support to millions of ordinary people will be at stake as charities struggle to survive.’