At last year’s National Convention,the Institute of Fundraising was marking time between chief executives. Amanda McLean had left unexpectedly in March and Peter Lewis (right) had not yet been appointed.
Since his arrival from the London Voluntary Service Council last October, the institute has carried out a consultation of its members that has led to a new strategy and organisational structure.
Mark Astarita, chair of the institute, says it is now well placed to forge ahead with the new agenda. "We are showing that we are bold enough to take on calculated risks and to innovate without fear of failure," says Astarita, director of fundraising at the British Red Cross.
Lewis says a key part of the agenda is raising the profile of fundraising in the national debate about giving. "The government talks about philanthropy but fails to talk much about fundraising," he says.
"But we did a YouGov poll that found most people give only if asked. There’s a tendency to think that money just falls out of people’s pockets, but someone has to have a direct relationship with the donor.
"Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, will be hearing about this when he comes to our opening plenary session on the first day of the convention."
Lewis says the institute has also begun to strengthen its research and policy work in response to the consultation. A researcher has been appointed to help members gain access to the best fundraising research, which will also inform policy decisions.
Lewis says this appointment is an example of the calculated risks mentioned by Astarita. Lewis also cites the institute’s backing for the successful campaign ?against Chancellor George Osborne’s proposal in the Budget to cap tax relief for wealthy donors.
"We were bold enough to say we supported the Give it Back, George campaign, even though some members felt philanthropists should have the alternative of giving their tax relief to the charity."
The institute has also entered a sensitive area by talking to the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association about accrediting training courses for face-to-face fundraisers, in response to recent criticism in undercover reporting by The Sunday Telegraph.
"Face-to-face is a valuable form of fundraising that brings returns to the sector, and we need to champion it," says Lewis.
"But we also set the code of practice and we need to make sure it is observed, with clear guidelines. Accreditation might be one way to do that."
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