Saturday 25 January 2020

Watchdog doesn't regulate collections on the street

The Charities Regulator doesn’t yet regulate how charities collect money on the street. (Stock picture)
The Charities Regulator doesn’t yet regulate how charities collect money on the street. (Stock picture)
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

It is the body set up to oversee the Irish charity sector - but the Charities Regulator doesn't yet regulate how charities collect money on the street.

A spokesman for regulator John Farrelly said that permits for fundraising, such as bucket collections, were a matter for the gardaí.

However, there is currently no regulation governing how charities collect bank account details for direct-debit payments.

At present, charitable organisations work to voluntary codes of conduct, including the Irish Fundraising Forum for Direct Recruitment (IFFDR) code of practice.

According to its website, the primary function of the forum is to establish and maintain best practice standards in direct recruitment fundraising and to provide the public with information about fundraising activity.

The guidelines were drawn up by organisations in the charity sector themselves.

"At present, the regulator is not involved in the regulation of fundraising practices," a spokesperson for the regulator said.

A consultative panel has been set up and is currently considering a number of issues regarding the charity sector.

This will look at issues including on-street collections for direct debit bank details, according to the spokesperson.

The review was set up at the request of the Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald.

"When completed, this report will go for public consultation and the regulator will be engaging with the minister to bring forward regulations to govern the manner and conduct of fundraisers," the regulator said.

A garda spokesman confirmed that the force has responsibility for charity street collections under the House To House Collections Act, 1962.

However, he said this did not cover fundraising where individuals were asked for banks details to make direct-debit payments. A section of the Charities Act 2009 deals with the issue of direct-debit style collections by charities, however it has not yet been implemented.

The laws are being rolled out on a phased basis. It is understood that regulation will not be implemented until the report of the consultative panel.

Irish Independent

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