Future of Fundraising letter to Sunday Times

Future of Fundraising letter to Sunday Times

6 September 2015

'The trust put in us by our supporters demands the highest standards of fundraising. We must always strive to meet them,’ says Charity Chiefs’ open letter

In an open letter to the Sunday Times chief executives of some of the UK’s most well known charities write that the generosity of the public 'places a big responsibility on all UK charities to behave well in everything we do — especially in how we ask for support'.

Seventeen charity chief executives signed a letter co-ordinated by the Institute of Fundraising (IoF), published in the Sunday Times on 6th September 2015.

“We know that there have been times where fundraising practice has failed to live up to these high standards. We are determined to change that,” they write.

“No one should ever feel pressured into giving. The vulnerable should always receive the strongest protection. And we need to act quickly and decisively when any fundraising practice is found wanting.”

Richard Taylor, Chair of the Institute of Fundraising, said: “I don’t know any fundraisers who wouldn’t be shocked if they thought they’ve created anxiety and distress to members of the public.

“Where that’s happened I want to apologise for that and say sorry, we have fallen below the expectations of the public.

“The vast majority of fundraising is done to high standards but I was very surprised and shocked at some of the examples of individual charities and agencies we have seen. We want to set the code at a higher level and stop certain practices that we don’t find acceptable.

“Data selling shouldn’t be buried in the small print and I expect that to be dealt with so you ban the size of text where it’s so small it can be lost. The regulator needs to have more teeth and more sanctions.

“Now is our chance to show that we really do care about regaining the trust and confidence of the public.”

Richard Taylor has also announced the appointment of Suzanne McCarthy — the immigration services commissioner — as the first independent chair of the IoF Standards Committee, the body responsible for setting the rules in the Code of Fundraising Practice.

She will be joined by three other lay members to “ensure that the voice of the public and donors sits alongside that of fundraisers and the charity sector in setting the standards for fundraising”.

The full text of the letter, published in the Sunday Times, reads:

“We live in an incredibly generous country. For generations, British people have dug deep to support a wide range of great causes here at home and overseas.

“This generosity places a big responsibility on all UK charities to behave well in everything we do - especially in how we ask for support.

“We know that there have been times where fundraising practice has failed to live up to these high standards. We are determined to change that.

“No one should ever feel pressured into giving. The vulnerable should always receive the strongest protection. And we need to act quickly and decisively when any fundraising practice is found wanting.

“As some of the UK’s leading charities we are absolutely committed to fundraising in a way that respects the rights of individuals and meets the expectations the public has in us. Where we need to change the way we seek the support of the public we will do so.

“We will only ever behave in an open, honest and respectful way towards our donors and the public.

“We welcome Sir Stuart Etherington’s current review of self-regulation of fundraising and will continue to work closely with governments and charity regulators around the UK to assess the need for any further safeguards that might be required.

“We will support the establishment of a new and independent regulator with the power to proactively investigate, audit and impose strong penalties on any charity that breaks the rules on fundraising.

“We will commit to a strengthened Code of Fundraising Practice to guide how we contact people and ask for support.

“We will ensure at all times that we protect and safeguard those who might be vulnerable from undue pressure.

“There is nothing wrong with seeking donations. Everybody leads busy lives and, no matter how deeply they care about a good cause, they often only give when asked.

“If charities simply waited for donations, the many millions raised for good causes each year through the long standing and unwavering generosity of the public would be at risk. From protecting children from cruelty, helping tackle hunger to funding research into disease, we would achieve far less.

“The trust put in us by our supporters demands the highest standards of fundraising. We must always strive to meet them.”

Signed by:

Paul Boissier, Chief Executive, RNLI

Mike Adamson, Chief Executive, British Red Cross

David Canavan, Acting Chief Executive, RSPCA

Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive, Marie Curie

Lesley-Anne Alexander, Chief Executive, RNIB

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK

Chris Simpkins, Director General, The Royal British Legion

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive, Scope

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive, NSPCC

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive, Alzheimer’s Society

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Now

Henny Braund, Chief Executive, Anthony Nolan

Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive, VSO International