Ethical fundraising and partnership policy

Download the Ethical Fundraising and Partnership policy as a PDF


In an environment where charities depend on multifarious sources of income, including in kind and pro bono contributions, it is important that the board has guiding principles to use as a framework for making decisions as to what money and partnerships to accept in line with our values.

We aim to increase donations from individual and corporate donors in the future, and we rely on pro bono support for legal advice (HR, charity law and defamation/libel), PR and marketing and potentially other consultancy in the future. Finding the right balance between standing true to our values and imperatives around financial sustainability is crucial.

In terms of governance, board members will be covered by our conflict of interest policy for trustees.

This paper outlines a suggested framework for making decisions about working in partnership or accepting donations.

  1. When considering whether to enter into a partnership or accepting a donation our decision will be informed by whether there is:
    1. Significant benefit to English Pen
    2. Impact on our independence; from specific governments, corporations, political parties and individuals. How will the proportion of funding affect our independence?
    3. Risk to our reputation, taking into account:
      1. Length of relationship
      2. The size of the benefit
      3. Our ability to undertake due diligence with respect to a partner/donor’s direct connections with governments and corporations that have poor track records in relation to freedom of expression/human rights abuse. Suggested criteria include position on RSL Press Freedom Index, cases upheld with respect to Freedom of Expression in European Court of Human Rights. This includes where someone or a body has acted directly in contravention of freedom of expression in a way that might curtail another person’s human rights.
  2. We will not accept a donation or form a partnership where there is a record of a criminal conviction.

English PEN’s responsibilities

  1. We will be transparent about all our donations and partnerships and publish information about them on the website.
  2. We will be accountable for any donation being spent in line with the wishes of the donor.
  3. We will seek to publish information about the impact of our work.
  4. We will undertake due diligence within our powers and resources.


The board is responsible for assessing any conflicts of interest/reputational damage for any relationship with a value of £40,000 or more. The board may require mitigating actions to be put in place where they judge there is any potential or perceived reputational damage.

The Director, with reference the Development Committee is responsible for all decisions below £40,000. These levels will be reviewed annually.


The policy will be published on our website and presented to members at the AGM.

As and when specific decisions need to be made in relation to existing or potential partnerships, sponsorships or donations, these will be considered by the Governance Committee in cases where the value is over £40,000 or where the risk of reputational damage is considered potentially significant. The Governance Committee will make a recommendation to the full board.

October 2018