Defend face-to-face to improve public perception, Sally de la Bedoyere tells charities

Chief executive of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association tells Institute of Fundraising conference that charities have ducked the issue with the media

Sally de la Bedoyere
Sally de la Bedoyere

Charities must be prepared to defend their use of face-to-face fundraising if the sector is to improve public perception of the technique, according to Sally de la Bedoyere, chief executive of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association.

Speaking this morning at the Institute of Fundraising’s face-to-face fundraising conference in London, de la Bedoyere said charities had this year "ducked talking to the media" about face-to-face because they were "scared of what the consequences might be to their brands".

"There will come a time when the reputational risks to your organisations of not responding to the media will far outweigh the risk of being open and transparent," she said. "All new movements have to start with a few brave individuals who are prepared to take a few risks.

She also said that if the charities that use face-to-face were not going to "justify, defend and advocate their use of F2F, then who is going to?"

She urged people working in fundraising to come forward and act as advocates for face-to-face, and said the PFRA aimed to recruit at least 10 by the end of next year.

The PFRA withdrew last year from its assumed role of publicly defending F2F because the position was inhibiting its regulatory role, she said.

De la Bedoyere said it was right for the regulator to step away from its public advocacy role because effective regulation was the best way it could support face-to-face.

"They are your fundraisers on the street and at people’s doorsteps; it is therefore your responsibility to persuade sceptics why you need to put them there," she said.

De la Bedoyere said charities should be open and honest about how much they spent on F2F and how much they raised, how they investigated complaints and how they abided by the rules.

She called the PFRA’s new joint agreement with the Local Government Association, launched last Wednesday, a turning point for the self-regulator.

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