Analysis: Room at the top at the Institute of Fundraising

Chief executive's departure causes concern but is being presented as a temporary setback

Institute of Fundraising
Institute of Fundraising

There was a sense of optimism last year when it was announced that an experienced fundraiser, Amanda McLean, had been appointed chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising. But this feeling faded two weeks ago when she resigned with immediate effect after only four months in the post.

The news came at a time when the IoF was also without a permanent chair, following the departure of Paul Amadi, who left - earlier than expected - at the end of 2010 after becoming director of fundraising at the NSPCC earlier that year. His replacement is due to be announced in two weeks.

Alan Gosschalk, the interim chair, describes the departure of McLean as a "temporary setback" at a time when the institute is otherwise in a strong position.

"The institute is not just about a chief executive," he says. " It's got a strong senior management team and board. It's financially rock solid, it's just received £275,000 in the strategic partners programme, it's rolling out mentoring, its courses are breaking attendance records and the new academy is going well."

So how did it get the appointment of a chief executive so wrong? "I really can't say," Gosschalk says. "Amanda decided that it was not the right role for her and we have to respect that."

For now, Bruce Leeke, chief operating officer for the past four years, is acting up, but Gosschalk hopes that a new appointment will be made within two months. The IoF will use the same recruitment company that found McLean, but Gosschalk declines to say if their second attempt will be free of charge. Depending on notice periods, a replacement should start work in the second half of the year.

The twin departures at the institute have prompted some criticism. John Sauve-Rodd, a member of the IoF since the 1980s and chair of the its first special interest group in the 1990s, thinks they show that the institute is under-managed.

"The statements McLean made about feeling overwhelmed in the role reinforced the view that there's not enough senior management," he says. "I believe there's something wrong and the IoF owes it to its members to look at the way it's structured."

Gary Richardson, who was chair of the North East region of the IoF for almost three years, is concerned about the institute's finances, especially its staff costs, which are approaching £1.5m.

"I would have to question whether that's delivering value for money," he says. Richardson wonders if it is necessary for the institute to have what he says is an expensive London base. He also points out that the IoF has ended the last four financial years with substantial deficits - it was £642,000 last year.

Kevin Geeson, treasurer of the IoF, says this is the result of receiving restricted funds some years ago. These have been spent in subsequent years on the activities they were intended for, such as the Remember A Charity campaign to promote legacy giving.

It therefore looks as if the institute has spent more than it received in the past few years. "But if you look at our core costs, expenditure is only slightly more than or less than the revenue each year," he says.

Geeson says the institute has made a lot of effort to become more financially independent over recent years. This has included expanding its membership and growing its learning academy.

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