Charities must take responsibility for face-to-face fundraising, says IoF chief

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, says charities need to set the standards and be in control

Peter Lewis
Peter Lewis

Charities must take "full ownership" of face-to-face fundraising to restore public confidence after recent negative media coverage, according to Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising.

He was speaking after the fundraising directors from 27 major UK charities took part in a face-to-face fundraising summit organised by the IoF at its headquarters in London on Monday.

Lewis told Third Sector after the meeting that the IoF would set up groups to look at tightening the Code of Fundraising Practice, the training of face-to-face fundraisers and how best to allocate space in town centres for street fundraisers.

"The people on the street and doing door-to-door are representing the charity, therefore it is fundamental charities take full ownership of the standards and training of those representing them to make the ‘ask’ in a positive way," he said. "We do need to look at taking the command of the practice.

"Managing the space is probably the biggest thing, and we as charities need to own that. We need to set what the standards are and work with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association and the agencies to put this into practice."

A statement from the IoF about the meeting said there was "universal consensus and commitment from attendees that charities take the lead in driving up standards in street and door-to-door fundraising". 

Lewis said the next stage would be to hold a similar meeting with the face-to-face agencies and set up the discussion groups. Not inviting the PFRA to the meeting enabled "free and frank discussion" to take place about the need to tighten the rules and monitoring, he said; the next stages would involve the self-regulator.

Ian MacQuillin, head of communications at the PFRA, said: "It is excellent that so many senior fundraisers went because there has been some reluctance from some fundraising directors to get involved in advocating face-to-face fundraising and we’ve struggled to get this kind of engagement. Allocating space is our whole raison d’être and we look forward to the IoF making contact on this."

He said the PFRA was reviewing space allocation and there was still time for its members and the IoF to comment.

The summit was set up to discuss the fallout from a recent investigation by The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, which found that street fundraisers from the agency Tag Campaign potentially breached the IoF’s fundraising code of practice during a pilot campaign for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

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