The bill introduces greater flexibility for charities with regard to fundraising appeals, and to put the proceeds of failed fundraising appeals towards a cy-près scheme. The cy-près doctrine allows for charitable money to be spent on the closest possible alternative, when the donor’s intentions are unable to be fulfilled.
When a fundraising appeal fails, clause six will allow charities to keep donations towards that appeal to a total of £120, and clause seven allows them to proceed with a cy-près scheme, without requiring them to seek the permission of the Charity Commission, as long as the proceeds do not exceed £1,000, though they may apply the funds to a more valuable scheme if the Charity Commission consents.
Ensuring that donations go towards the purpose intended, or as close as possible, is an important aspect of charity law, and is vital to ensuring trust between charities and donors. We think this proposal is however a sensible update to the law, and strikes the right balance between respecting the donor’s wishes and providing charities with more flexibility. We would encourage the use of this power to be monitored, including seeking donor opinion, with a view to potentially raise the limits in this bill.