Your thoughts might be turning to your summer holidays and the vain hope that the phone and email might quieten down in July and August - but for me this time of the year is always one for reflection. Last night was the Institute's annual meeting, which is always good for reviewing the year and reflecting on what has been achieved.
Because we seek to support and represent the profession of fundraising, we have a clear culture of seeking to work in partnership with others to raise our voice and our reach. The past year has been about trying to make partnerships work.
The Fundraising Programme is a joint initiative between the Institute and the Directory of Social Change. It effectively brings the two organisations' fundraising training under one common brand, with the benefits of economies of scale and marketing reach that such a union brings. Creating the will to overcome the potential obstacles around this union has been one of the success stories of the year. The challenge for the future is to build on this first year's success.
On the subject of training, there are three other initiatives to report.
First, due to funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation, we are now in a position to announce the launch of a new route of distance learning for the Certificate in Fundraising Management in partnership with the Open University. This is being launched at the Convention and will start taking bookings in the autumn.
Second, our partnership with the London Development Agency as a funder, and the Black Training and Enterprise Group has allowed us to provide our expertise and training support to many small-sized community black and minority ethnic organisations. In so doing, we have learned a great deal about how to widen the provision of our services and support.
Third, this is a development in partnership with our most important partners: our branches. An Introduction to Fundraising is a flexible and adaptable programme of learning designed to capture the core knowledge that anyone carrying out fundraising to any level or degree of professionalism must know. It is designed to be delivered by the National and Regional Groups and allows even large fundraising organisations to maintain some level of quality control over the fundraising carried out in their name.
Special interest groups
We have responded to the huge growth in the activities of National, Regional and Special Interest Groups over the past two years by reshaping our membership staffing structure to provide more dedicated and consistent support.
The appointment of a co-ordinator for these groups has built on their success in growing their turnover from £151,000 in 2002 to almost £200,000 in the year that has just finished.
In Scotland, a major restructure of the way our committed volunteer base works has allowed our full-time member of staff to become part-time as her own business develops.
Concurrently in Wales, the National Committee has been successful in attracting funding from the National Assembly. This has resulted in our first established employee, Dot Griew, taking over from Margaret Bond, who has provided us with an interim consultancy.
The Legacy Promotion Campaign is part of the Institute, although it is supported by a separate steering committee and is a brand in its own right.
The Institute supports the campaign by giving it the umbrella of governance protection and managerial support to campaign director Theresa Dauncey. It is now starting to bear the fruit of the joint work of its 108 members and will be a beacon of joint working for charities for many years to come.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is also an initiative under the umbrella of the Institute. But, unlike the Legacy Promotion Campaign, it is intended to separate the PFRA off as a body in its own right later this year.
Briefly talking numbers, our individual membership stands at 3,650 and we attracted 742 new members during the year. We have 420 members currently holding the Certificate in Fundraising Management and a further 600 signed up to attempt it.