FUNDRAISING NEWS: Ireland acts to save face to face

Emma Maier

The Irish voluntary sector has set up a body to regulate and promote street fundraising in a bid to stave off the sort of negative publicity that the technique has received at the hands of the UK media.

The Irish Public Fundraising Forum for Direct Recruitment - which was the brainchild of a consortium of Irish charities and professional fundraising organisations - has met three times to discuss how to prevent face-to-face fundraising from getting a bad name.

"On the street, fundraising is relatively new in Ireland, " said Colin Lee, programme director of Plan Ireland. "We feel it's important that the Irish public have somewhere to turn to if they have questions.

"By coming together and organising ourselves, charities show that they can work with each other on issues they have in common".

The forum is currently working on a street fundraising code of practice similar to the one used by the UK's Public Fundraising Regulatory Association and plans to run awareness campaigns to educate the public about the technique.

"We hope to finish work on the code of practice within the next six weeks," said fundraising consultant Niamh Sheeran, who is chairing the forum.

"Once that is complete we will be able to start looking at how we can use it in PR and education campaigns."

The project is particularly significant because at present there is no official regulation of the charity sector in Ireland, and the forum is a unique enterprise.

The forum has proved popular with the sector, and 22 charities and fundraising agencies have already expressed an interest in the project.

Those involved include major Irish charities such as Concern, Action Aid Ireland and the Irish Red Cross, as well as professional fundraising organisations.

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