INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: All the tools we need for tomorrow's fundraisers

David Parker, head of accreditation and training at the Institute of Fundraising

This month saw the launch of the Open University's Winning Resources and Support programme. Accredited by the Institute and funded by the Lloyds TSB Foundation, this course updates the models and approaches of its predecessor.

It focuses on the distinctive competences required by fundraisers at the beginning of the 21st century - particularly in the area of ethics and information and communications technology. While it still offers extensive coverage of communications in theory and practice, it is now grounded more specifically in the context of fundraising practice.

The study schedule lasts until April 2004. During this six-month period, the students will work through six course texts, developing skills and understanding through interactive exercises. Students will have access to a dedicated course website with resources and links, and the opportunity to attend face-to-face tutorials, a day school, and to work together online in PC conferences based on their tutorial groups.

Key milestones in the course include the three tutor-marked assignments.

These allow students to apply course concepts to their own fundraising practice, and receive grading and feedback. The final part of the assessment is an examination, which allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the course as a whole. We expect students to receive their results in June or early July 2004.

This first presentation has attracted 97 students, based in eight groups around the UK. As you might expect, London has the most students across two groups. The other groups are based in Cambridge, Manchester, Bristol, Middlesbrough, Stirling, and Belfast. As yet we do not have details of which kinds of organisations will be represented - those will emerge from the introductory messages students will post in their online work over the next few weeks. However, we do know about the tutors. We were pleased to be able to select 13 tutors from the two dozen or so candidates who applied. The current tutors include a community appeals manager for a national charity; two non-executive directors of NHS trusts - one with experience of allocating Community Fund grants from the Lottery; a fundraiser from HE; another from the arts; and several community development professionals.

The emergence of this course, together with two others recently awarded Licensed Provider status by the Institute (the Certificate in Fundraising for Schools presented by the Professional Fundraising Consultancy and the Fundraising Trainee programme by Fundraising Training) demonstrates the variety and diversity of development opportunities available in the sector.

Currently the Institute's Code of Conduct is aspirational in its requirement for professional competence as a requirement of membership (see your copy of Who's Who for details - your new edition will be with you early next year). We know that many individuals actively attend to their professional development but there are many who do not. To address this we are exploring a range of opportunities designed to inspire every fundraiser and encourage those who have taken the first step to move forward in order to meet tomorrow's fundraising challenges.

We want to ensure that fundraisers at all levels have the opportunity to develop themselves and a model of accomplishment against which they can measure their progress. We want to inspire rather than require fundraisers to develop themselves in order to do their jobs better.

In future you will begin to see high-quality programmes identified with the Institute's Logo and the words 'Accredited Programme' alongside indicating that the training has been formally checked and approved by the Institute.

Normally these courses will be associated with the Certificate in Fundraising Management, and we hope to expand the scheme to include a great many more programmes and providers. A range of other tools will follow in the coming months; watch out for developments during 2004.

For more details about the next presentation of Winning Resources and Support contact the Open University through their website www.open.ac.uk/courses.

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