INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Regulating all fundraisers gives us food for thought

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

Last week, I received an email from John Kelly, of the consultancy Brakeley. He was concerned that the review of self-regulation in fundraising should have a broad remit to look beyond charities to education, culture and health.

Many of these are exempt and Kelly's point was that if we end up with differing rules for different sectors, then we risk losing the public's patience and understanding.

My immediate response was first to forward these comments to Rodney Buse, who is running the self-regulation consultation, and second to do some hard thinking. Clearly, it is vital that I use this issue to forge much closer links with other umbrella bodies such as CASE and Arts and Business among others.

The imperative here is to do what is best for fundraising organisations and fundraisers. Both CASE and Arts and Business provide networking and training opportunities in their fields of specialisation that the Institute couldn't and, indeed shouldn't, replicate. The same works the other way around as well.

The key specialism of the Institute is the standards laid out in the Codes of Fundraising Practice. It is vitally important to ensure that there is one location and reference point for these standards, otherwise confusion will reign.

I have already discovered, if I didn't know it before, that far too often offers of joint working and partnerships are mistaken as cries for help and a takeover. It has always been a key objective of the Institute to be aligned to the profession of fundraising. This means working in partnership is vital.

The Institute has many members in arts, education and health and these members can play a key and pivotal role in helping to build and secure the relationships, which mean that the whole profession of fundraising can begin to work to tackle some of the really big issues we face.

There is so much common work we can and must achieve. All fundraisers suffer from a lack of understanding of the role they carry out. Often this is with trustees and senior executives. But imagine the issues faced if your line manager is a hospital consultant, or a university don, or a school bursar. It isn't so different really.

Whatever part of the fundraising world you come from, don't be afraid to put pressure on us. Make it felt and keep applying it, to ensure fundraising as a profession grows in recognition and professionalism.

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