The Institute of Fundraising will mark its 30th anniversary at this year’s convention at a time when it is undergoing some major internal changes and helping to oversee significant developments in fundraising regulation.
The institute is the largest representative body for individuals in the voluntary sector, with more than 5,400 individual members and 360 organisational members. But its roots can be found in a London pub near the Strand in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Ken Burnett, the fundraising consultant and one of the institute’s founders, says that some of today’s most recognisable fundraising names would meet each Friday for drinks long before the institute was formed.
Fundraisers including Nick Lowe, Redmond Mullin, Giles Pegram and Richard Radcliffe would meet to talk "eagerly" about fundraising and "dream of career-enhancing initiatives like knowledge-sharing, seminars, conventions and certification".
It wasn’t until 1983 that things became more official with the birth of what was first called the Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers. According to Judith Rich, a fundraising consultant and one of the group of about 10 people who founded the institute, the IoF was launched with 51 members and was originally based at the Charities Aid Foundation offices in London.
She says it was funded by a £500 donation from each of the nine charities that sat on its first committee, and this was matched by an additional £5,000 grant from CAF.
The first National Convention took place in 1991, under the chairmanship of Pegram, and was attended by about 330 delegates. This year’s convention will have more than 2,500 people come through the doors over the course of its three days.
But the IoF is not without its troubles. Earlier this year, it began a consultation with staff about plans to cut four of the 35 jobs at its London headquarters. Although Peter Lewis, its chief executive, says the IoF has had a successful year, doubling the number of corporate supporters, a major reduction in its grant from the Office for Civil Society and higher VAT payments means it is feeling the squeeze.
At the same time, it is helping to oversee the simplification of fundraising regulation, after Lord Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act 2006 said there was a "confused self-regulatory landscape" in fundraising.
But Lewis says he is optimistic about the future. The IoF is in a "very good place", he says, having grown its number of individual and organisational members over the past year. "We’re growing in our reach, and that reach brings things like more political influence," he says. "We’ve got big aspirations for the future."