Representing fundraising in times of change

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Mike Smith | 11 November 2015

It hardly needs repeating – fundraisers have had a difficult year. The media spotlight has been intense and the political response has been rapid and robust. There is a widespread understanding among fundraisers and charities that things need to change.

With change always comes uncertainty, and some voices in the fundraising community have expressed real concern about what fundraising might look like under the new regime.  In particular, they point to the Fundraising Preference Service and to the proposals for strengthening consent around ‘opt-in’.  Many fundraisers understandably feel bruised and frustrated by the representation of the sector as a whole in some of the media coverage.

In all of this, some have been asking the question – what has IoF, as the body representing the sector, been doing to support fundraisers in this difficult time?  The answer is we’ve been doing a lot! 

The priority is, and will always be, to build a better and sustainable environment for fundraisers in the future.  This is what our members consistently tell us they want us to work for.   We all recognise the need for change and this change is now upon us.  We have been working to engage in the processes shaping the new fundraising environment based on our members’ views. 

What does this look like in practice?

The Fundraising Review

  • We have surveyed our members and used these responses to inform our input into the review.  Key points from our members were that all charities should have to follow the same rules, and that for public trust and confidence there needed to be stronger and more effective sanctions.

 

The Government proposals following the review

  • We have been meeting with key individuals including the Minister for Civil Society, policy advisers at no. 10 Downing Street and the Office of Civil Society to make sure that the needs, priorities, and views of our members are heard by those influencing and making decisions affecting our sector.
  • We have been working to progress the merger between the IoF and PFRA so that we can join our functions and become more effective and efficient at working for fundraisers and fundraising organisations.

 

The media

  • We coordinated a letter from charity Chief Executives in the Sunday Times to demonstrate that charities understand the concerns of the public and to start to rebuild trust in the sector.
  • Our Chair appeared on the One Show and national news programmes.
  • We’ve done numerous national and local radio interviews, consistently saying that the majority of fundraising is done to a high standard and that fundraisers are committed to treating donors fairly.

 

The Select Committee inquiry into charity fundraising

  • Our Chair and Chief Executive gave oral evidence to the Committee – explaining how fundraisers have responded over the summer and their commitment to ensuring that public trust and confidence in charities is high.
  • We provided written evidence to the inquiry and wrote to the Chair of the Committee to update them on progress.
  • We have been supporting our members with information as they give evidence to the Inquiry 

 

Reviewing and Strengthening the Code of Practice

  •  Set up four working groups to review fundraising standards, informed and shaped by the involvement of over 250 of our members in the review process.
  • Responding to the FRSB’s interim report on fundraising practices, we made significant changes in the Code to give donors more control and ensure people in vulnerable circumstances are protected.

 

Representing and understanding members’ views

  • We have surveyed our members as well as the public to understand your views and thoughts about a new Fundraising Preference Service so that we can fully represent the sector’s views in future discussions. You can read IoF Head of Policy & Research, Daniel Fluskey's blog post on the fundraising preference service and if it can work for fundraising
  • We’ve been at our regional and national conferences and events, as well at special interest group forums to give updates on what’s happening, answer questions, and listen to your views.

 

Scotland

  • The IoF in Scotland has led work with the SCVO review of fundraising north of the border, and held meetings with OSCR and the Scottish Government.
  • A survey of members has been launched to understand priorities for fundraisers in Scotland.

 

Where next?

Well, there is still a long way to go.  The new Fundraising Regulator is still in the process of being established.  We expect a working group to be formed to look at a new Fundraising Preference Service which we will ensure is informed and shaped by our members’ views. 

In Parliament we await the publication of the findings of the Select Committee inquiry and the passage of the Charities Bill through the House of Commons. At the same time media interest in charities and fundraising remains high and we can expect that interest to continue for the foreseeable future. And then there’s public opinion, with a recent survey highlighting that trust in charities has dipped below 50%, its lowest level since 2007.  These are all important processes in shaping the fundraising landscape in the months and years to come.  As the professional body for fundraisers, the IoF is committed to work with our members in shaping that future.  

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