Meeting the Minister
The General Election in June and the subsequent appointment of a new Minister for Civil Society can sometimes feel like a long time ago, so I was delighted last week to have the chance to meet with Tracey Crouch MP. Joined by a small team of civil servants, we met in a side room in Parliament to discuss all things fundraising.
There are those who say that having a minister responsible for both sport and civil society is too much in one brief, and that this diminishes the importance of the charity sector within government. I certainly didn’t get any sense of that from my meeting. This was a Minister who was on top of her brief and engaged in the issues and opportunities facing the charity sector, and charity fundraising in particular. She was full of support for our work, and interested and full of her own ideas about how we can work together to do more to help and support the sector. And from the Institute’s perspective we are delighted she is supportive of our planned journey to Chartered status, a journey we can now re-embark upon.
Our focus in the meeting however was the range of issues facing the sector. We talked about our desire to offer more support for smaller charities to build fundraising skills and capacity and the Small Charities Fundraising Summit that we are planning to hold later this year. We discussed the Data Protection Bill and GDPR, reinforcing the points we raised in our letter to Digital Minister Matthew Hancock a few weeks ago, asking for specific extra support for smaller charities to adapt to the requirements of GDPR. I was reassured that the Minister is alive to the issues, and looking at ways to help the sector get ready. The Minister was incredibly supportive of our work, through Remember a Charity, to increase legacy giving, and was particularly interested to know how she could use her role to encourage more people to leave a gift to charity in their will, especially at a time when more people are looking to make a will through online platforms.
It was a genuine pleasure to have such a positive meeting despite the fact that one thing was definitely clear – funding is tight and grand projects requiring lots of money are unlikely to be funded in the near future. But as we always make clear at the IoF, direct funding to support the sector, while welcome, is by no means the only role that government can play. By enabling, empowering, convening and leading a Minister can work with other funders, sector bodies and charities themselves to ensure we can grow fundraising and giving in the years to come.
Following my meeting with the Minister, I am confident that we have every chance to do this.