Don't view raising funds as a necessary evil, says Shelter chief

Polly Neate tells the IoF's annual convention that fundraising allows charities to proceed with their missions

Polly Neate
Polly Neate

The sector must not view fundraising as a "necessary evil" if it wants to progress in the future, the chief executive of Shelter has warned.

Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention in central London, Polly Neate said fundraising was central to enabling charities’ missions.

She said there had been a lot of reimagining in the sector recently, such as the Civil Society Futures report, published last year.

But she said: "As we reimagine civil society, we must not view fundraising as a necessary evil or through the prism of scandal."

Although the sector had stood up for fundraising "a bit" after the scandals of the past few years, Neate said, she remained worried that it was still treated at something "we should be apologising for".

She said: "The fact that we have to ask for money as charities and sell the charity – that’s not a necessary evil. That’s your job."

Neate pointed out that the original meaning of the word charity was love for your neighbour.

"We connect people who need help with those who want to help and give people the chance to contribute to a better world, a world where they can help others in their hour of need," she said.

"A lot of people can’t do that in any way other than giving money, and that’s how they do it. So the job our fundraisers do is the heart of charity."

Neate added that charity should ideally be "anti-greed, anti-selfishness and anti-solipsistic", although it sometimes fell short of this ideal.

"We don’t believe it’s all about us," she said. "Actually, a lot of the time we do, but we massively shouldn’t.

"We are about love for your neighbour."

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