Excellent fundraising doesn’t stand still

street fundraiser in action

Peter Hills-Jones | 1 August 2017

A year on from the establishment of the Fundraising Regulator and the merger of the IoF with the PFRA, now seems a good time to reflect both on what we’ve achieved but also what more needs to be done.

Fundraisers' voices, being heard

The Code changes made this week by the FR has been a good example of the IoF acting as a conduit for members’ view - through our Standards Advisory Board we channelled the expertise and experience of over 6000 individuals and 600 organisations in our formal response to the consultation and were supportive of many areas. 

From my perspective as Director of Compliance, it’s clear that many of these changes are either helpful clarifications or useful codifications of existing practice. While public, i.e. street, door-to-door, private site and telephone, fundraising often attracts the most attention due to its visibility by any measure they are highly regulated activities. Although this is clearly a response to public concern, the vast majority of professionals active in these channels recognise that regulated fundraising is inherently more sustainable.

The changes:

Solicitation statements and public support

Addressing the issue of solicitation statements is a good case-in-point. Since 1992, by law all paid fundraisers have had to declare their status to the public. And since 2008, professional fundraisers have also been required to disclose not only the fee being paid by the charity to the agency but also how that fee was calculated. The most striking aspect of these requirements is that there’s no evidence to suggest the public are any less likely to give once they are made aware.

Significant numbers of people, almost one million a year, understand that charities pay for a range of professional services, including public fundraising and then chose to donate. Many of them either run businesses themselves or work in the public sector, where significant proportions of public services are delivered by private companies, and for them it makes sense to give via fundraisers who come to them. It’s quick, convenient and personal and the transparency means they always have all the necessary information before making their decision.

This most recent change therefore, requiring fundraisers to ensure the solicitation statement is given before the donor confirms they wish to give, simply confirms existing widespread practice. And for that reason we anticipate it will be welcomed by members. The spread of technology - the ubiquitous iPad for example, has for many years meant that donors will always see the solicitation statement before signing on the ‘digital dotted line’. Building compliance into donation systems in this way means fundraisers can deliver a high quality donor experience that focusses on providing education about the cause and securing long-term commitment.

People in vulnerable circumstances

Protecting those in vulnerable circumstances, while ensuring that those with the capacity and desire to give are not unfairly discriminated against, is another vitally important issue and crucially, requires a real investment in skills and training to help fundraisers get it right. That’s why last year we launched our E-Learning platform that takes members through a range of different vulnerability scenarios. To ensure their authenticity, we also used actors with real vulnerabilities secured through a specialist talent agency. It is a signal of our commitment in this area and one we will continue to invest in the years ahead.

Effectively partnering with agencies

Finally, the much debated issue of ‘all reasonable efforts’ in relation to the monitoring of partners and agencies that charities work with has moved forward thanks to the Fundraising Regulator’s consultation. Here at the IoF, we have been playing our part by establishing a new Public Fundraising Certification Programme. This is the most comprehensive set of requirements for both charities and agencies carrying out fundraising and sets a new bar for high quality standards. By combining a thorough self-assessment process with our existing field and training observation programmes, we are now in the best possible position to advise members on whether they are meeting the ‘all reasonable efforts’ test.

Supporting the future

All in all, the Compliance Directorate has been at the forefront of a more activist approach to member support at the IoF. Notably, we are broadening our appeal through such innovations as GDPR training for members. Since the beginning of June for example we have delivered 11 sessions across the UK to almost 1000 fundraisers to ensure they have the right data skills and knowledge to fundraiser safely and legally. The demands on fundraisers have grown, and will continue to grow, almost exponentially and as such the IoF must be ready to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of its members.

Peter Hills-Jones, Director of Compliance, Institute of Fundraising

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