The Election, the new Government and charity fundraising: 6 things

Parliament

Mike Smith | 9 June 2017

Our Head of External Affairs, Mike Smith, outlines some of the challenges and opportunities for charity fundraising following the General Election.

Well, not many people inside the charity sector or beyond were expecting the election result we saw last night.  So what could the new Government and political context mean for fundraising and the charity sector?   

1. New minister and shadow minister?

With Rob Wilson losing his seat at the election the sector is waiting in anticipation for who will fill the role, and to get a sense of how they will approach the brief and work with the sector.  Similarly, will Steve Reed MP keep the shadow ministerial brief?  We will be watching this space closely as the ministerial announcements are made. 

2. What’s happening with the Shared Society agenda?

Charities barely got a mention in the election manifestos and on the campaign trail.  Yet in January, the sector was buoyed by the (still) Prime Minister’s welcome speech about their role as part of her ‘shared society’ vision.  This was never really articulated or progressed before the election.  What does the new political context of a hung parliament and Brexit negotiations in full swing mean for other priorities, including the shared society? I think the voice of the IoF and other sector bodies will be more important than ever to make sure that a clear and positive vision for the sector is still squarely on the Government’s agenda. 

3. What will the Government do to support small charity fundraising?

Support for smaller charities was a focus of the Government’s policy before the election.  Despite of some very welcome initiatives, more needs to be done.  Ahead of the election, we pointed out that too many small charities report that they lack the skills needed to effectively raise the funds they need to have an even bigger impact. We will be campaigning in the coming months to ensure that providing support for smaller charity fundraising is firmly on the agenda of the new Government. 

4. What will the Government do to support legacy giving?

Legacy giving is growing all the time, with over £2.5bn left to good causes in wills every year.  Yet with 35% of over 40s saying that they’d be happy to leave a gift in their will, only 6% of people actually do so.  As the Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson gave his strong support to encouraging legacy giving.  It is time to continue and build on this work to help make legacy giving become the norm rather than the exception, and we want to see this firmly on the agenda of the next Minister for Civil Society. 

5. The future of digital and data

Always an important issue for charity fundraisers, the digital space and data protection are likely to feature as a policy priority in the coming years. The Conservative Manifesto contained a big section on the digital economy, promising to develop a new ‘digital charter’ working with industry and charities.  Playing a full and constructive role and making sure charity fundraising is well represented and understood will be vital. 

6. Brexit, Brexit, Brexit

Brexit will continue to be THE issue shaping politics and the future of the country for the next few years, at least.  The dialogue with the charity sector bodies including the IoF before the election about the Brexit negotiations, and the impact and future opportunities this held, was very constructive.  We will need this approach to continue apace – the clock is ticking…

Although the election result was not one many predicted, the charity sector should waste no time in making sure we are working closely with MPs and the Government on future policies.  The 6 points above are no way an exhaustive list, but the day after the election they certainly feel like some of the issues and challenges that we will need to get to grips with in the weeks and months to come.

Mike Smith, Head of External Affairs, Institute of Fundraising

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