Organisations accused of fundraising malpractice were represented on IoF task groups

The IoF's Code of Fundraising Practice
The IoF's Code of Fundraising Practice

The task groups that considered the latest changes the Institute of Fundraising has made to its Code of Fundraising Practice included representatives of organisations accused of fundraising malpractice, such as Listen Fundraising, Oxfam and the NSPCC, according to documents published yesterday by the IoF.

The disclosure of the identity of the people who participated in the groups came a week after Andrew Hind, the new chair of the Fundraising Standards Board, told Third Sector he believed it was unacceptable for the task groups to include what he called "conflicted individuals".

The IoF had earlier indentified the four people who chaired the groups, but declined to disclose the names of the members of its task groups, something that Hind also criticised last week.

Documents published by the IoF yesterday show that Tony Charalambides, managing director of the telephone fundraising agency Listen, sat on the task group that looked at telephone fundraising, even though Listen was the subject of an FRSB investigation in June. The agency later became the focus of a Daily Mail report which claimed that it used high-pressure donor recruitment tactics and may have breached several aspects of the IoF code.

Other task group members included Caroline Batt, fundraising manager at the NSPCC; Richard Verden, head of individual giving at the British Red Cross; Lizzie Williams, email and SMS marketing manager at Oxfam; and Sarah Lee, legacies manager at Macmillan Cancer Support.

All four of these charities are being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office for potential data and privacy breaches after the Daily Mail newspaper reported in July that fundraisers working on their behalf were calling supporters who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

Hind told Third Sector last week: "The recommendations are being made by task groups with no independent representation, which in some cases include the very organisations that are the subject of investigations. What does that do to the public’s perception of the objectivity of the process of revising the code?"

The IoF defended its decision to allow employees of organisations that were being investigated to participate in the process, saying that the task group members had all signed declarations of interest. It said and that to exclude any of them because of the organisations they worked for would have been unfair, particularly given that there had not yet been a conclusion to any of the investigations of malpractice launched in recent months.

Earlier this month, the chair of the data task group, Dawn Varley, a consultant at the database consultancy Purple Vision, who was also a member of the standards committee, resigned from both roles, saying there was no longer a need for her input into the code-setting process.

Her resignation came a day after a front-page story in The Sunday Times in which the IoF announced its preference for an opt-in system for data sharing, two days before the task group was due to meet for the final time to agree the recommendations it would make to the standards committee.

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