Chartered journey: Yes, fundraising is a real job!

Chartered journey: Yes, fundraising is a real job!

Daniel Fluskey | 16 April 2019

Today we announced that we have had the go ahead from the Privy Council to make a formal petition to become the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. Dan Fluskey explains the impact chartered status could have on the public perception of fundraising.

“Oh that’s nice you’re a fundraiser. But what do you do for your real job?” I wonder how many of our members have had had to face some version of that question over the years  I bet it’s a higher proportion than you’d get from lawyers, teachers, or accountants. 

I spend a lot of my time talking on behalf of fundraisers and fundraising organisations, whether that’s to civil servants, lawyers, regulators, the press, other professions, or doing media and broadcast interviews. As part of that I have found myself in a position that I’m sure many of our members can relate to, having to contend with a misunderstanding of what a fundraiser does (yes, they are paid; yes, it is a real job; and yes, fundraisers do have real views that should be heard about policy, legislation, and regulation). I’ve done media interviews where I’ve been come up against the view that that fundraisers should all be volunteers, that you can’t have a career in fundraising, and that fundraisers act unethically and don’t have professional standards.

It’s something that we’ve seen within the sector too where even among CEOs, or trustee boards, fundraising is sometimes seen as a ‘necessary evil’ rather than a fundamental part of what a charity does. Admittedly, this probably happens less than it used to, but it’s still a perception that lingers. And I don’t blame people who have those misconceptions – I don’t believe it’s a deliberate ploy to do down the work of fundraisers – but instead comes from a genuine lack of awareness or knowledge about what a professional fundraiser does. We’ve been fighting that battle for years. And while progress has been made, something big is potentially round the corner (subject of course to approval by the Privy Council and the Queen) that can mark a step change in how fundraising is viewed.

And that’s where the journey to chartered status comes in. Having chartered status can help us raise the profile of fundraising, not just in our sector but across policy makers and in the wider world. From an external affairs perspective it’s a great opportunity – it cements the fact that it is a recognised profession with the high standards, ethical values, and a culture of continuous improvement that comes with a Charter. It means that we can do more to champion fundraising, have a more persuasive voice in policy discussions, and raise the awareness among all about the huge contribution that fundraising makes to the lives of communities and individuals both in the UK and around the world.

The prospect of being approved to become a chartered body is a really exciting one which can bring real opportunities to further represent and champion the fantastic work that fundraisers do. Fundraisers are dedicated, passionate, committed people that go above and beyond on the causes they work for as well as provide mutual support for their colleagues and peers across the sector. A Charter will help to showcase that to others, as well as enable us to do more to bring about the policy changes that will help charities raise more money and build a more positive view of fundraising both inside the sector and with external stakeholders, the media, and the public. And if anyone challenges you about whether fundraising is a ‘real job’ in the future, you’ll be able to say “Yes, the Queen said so!”.

Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and External Affairs, Institute of Fundraising

Find out more about our journey towards chartered status here. 

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