At the end of a week of contrasts that included our fantastic National Fundraising Convention and National Fundraising Awards which showcased the very best in fundraising, at the same time as uncomfortable coverage of some fundraising techniques in the media, I just wanted to keep you up to date with the latest developments.
Over the last few weeks we have repeatedly emphasised our, and your, commitment to making self-regulation of fundraising work better for beneficiaries, the public, charities and the government.
We have consistently made clear to politicians and the media alike that charitable activity, which contributes so much to society here and abroad, with a large amount of it enabled by the generosity of the British public, is too precious to put at risk through poor fundraising practice, especially when it places the high levels of public trust we enjoy in jeopardy.
We have stressed at all times that the vast majority of fundraising practice is conducted to the very high standards set out in our Code of Fundraising Practice, and that none of us is proud of the poor fundraising practice that has been exposed in the media recently.
And we are pleased that some of our larger organisational members are now working with us to put in place a robust compliance and mystery shopping scheme to ensure the high standards, of which we are all proud, are not just signed up to, but also delivered.
Whilst making it clear that there is no evidence that our profession is in anyway responsible for the tragic death of Olive Cooke, we have also reacted swiftly to the public concern following her death. We have not just undertaken specific activity to strengthen the Code, but are now recruiting for an Independent Chair for our Standards Committee, plus three independent lay members, to ensure that when setting the Code we balance the fundraising expertise of our members with the experiences of donors and members of the public.
We are also committed to streamlining and strengthening the self-regulatory framework itself. Yesterday we published our Strategic Partnership with the PFRA, setting out how we will work more closely together in relation to policy, standards, mystery shopping, training, and communication.
As Richard Taylor, our Chair, made clear on Wednesday, since our inception 33 years ago, setting the standards for fundraising practice has been an absolute priority for the Institute. That remains the same today. But the carefree spirit of the 80’s is but a distant memory as far as our world is concerned. Our world is not that similar to the one that spawned self-regulation in 2006 – Tony Blair was then our Prime Minister, Bush the President of the US and it was cool to be seen with a Blackberry…
Today’s environment has quickened in pace beyond our wildest imagination; 24/7 media is a total reality, particularly through social media, and as we each consume our news minute by minute so our views of the world are formed and possibly changed minute by minute.
We therefore believe all parts of the system need to move more quickly and robustly, and we are currently reviewing how best we can do that at the Institute.
Despite all that activity, and the fact that we all know the vast majority of fundraising practice is undertaken to a very high standard, the Minister may well intervene this weekend. If he does, we will of course make sure that the views of our members, and of the wider fundraising community, are heard in the days and weeks to come.
CEO, Institute of Fundraising