From the big stories of the month...
'Chugging' allows us to establish relationships with our donors
I read with interest about Stephen Bell, chief executive of Changing Lives, calling for charity "chuggers" to be banned (ThirdSector.co.uk, 15 September).
Bell rightly recognises the damage that poor fundraising does to the charity sector and the need for tighter regulation to combat it where it exists. But it is important to highlight why charities use these direct approaches with the public and the importance of the money that responsible fundraising raises for local and national causes. Not every charity is able to rely on government or lottery funding to support their beneficiaries. The reality is that most use a combination of methods to raise money for their causes.
The reason why so many charities use face-to-face fundraising methods is not just that it works in the short term. Charities engage directly with the public in this way to build relationships with potential supporters and recruit donors who will stay with them for several years. It is in no charity's interest to engage in poor fundraising practices that irritate donors.
Banning fundraisers from the high street might be popular with some, but it jeopardises the millions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of long-term supporters that good face-to-face fundraising gains for vulnerable people.
The Public Fundraising Association has set up co-regulatory agreements with more than 100 local authorities, which put strict limits on where, when and how many face-to-face fundraisers can operate in a local area. We would urge local authorities concerned about fundraisers on their high streets to contact the PFRA to set up co-regulatory agreements for their areas.
Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive, Public Fundraising Association
Spend on campaigning will not have to be included in annual returns, says the regulator
I very much welcome the Charity Commission's decision. Collecting such data would not only be an administrative burden, but also a big accounting challenge. Meaningful comparative figures on campaigning spend will be very difficult to get and, in the current climate, fraught with the ambiguities that surround what constitutes campaigning. The most useful way forward right now would be for the Charity Commission to pilot some research to see if any sensible questions and guiding criteria on this can ever be framed in a way that produces genuinely useful, standardisable figures.
Public trust in charities at lowest level since 2007, according to nfpSynergy research
Charities make mistakes, and there is always room for improvement. However, I suspect that this change is about two things – a concerted effort by some sections of the media to trash the sector, and a Charity Commission that every week is warning about the risks in giving to charity and highlighting the investigations that it is undertaking.
Angelina Jolie resigned from board of Halo Trust 'after dispute about payment for two trustees'
So anyway, Angelina, if you're looking for a new charity to support, we might be able to find room for you at Julia's House. And none of our trustees get paid anything...
...and features in the previous issue
Peter Stanford: Two charity trusteeships are surely enough
My experience suggests that it is usually trustees with only one trusteeship who handle conflicts of interest poorly, don't attend meetings regularly, muddle details or lack focus. A charity trusteeship rarely demands a commitment of more than one or two days a month. If you have the time, are sound in mind and body, and are keen to serve, why would we deny the sector access to your skills? It is hard enough to recruit competent trustees. We have many issues to address in charity governance, but this is not one of them.
Andrew Purkis interview: 'Commission's approach to campaigning is wrong'
The government sees charities as meekly doing their bidding to fill some of the gaps left by government policy and cuts. Wishful thinking! This is why they don't like campaigning charities. It should not surprise us that the government has this attitude. What is distinctly odd is when the independent Charity Commission appears to be backing the government. The issue of charities campaigning has legally always been one of the more subjective, less clear-cut areas - the rule of thumb being that their campaigning not be party political, but demonstrably furthers their charitable objects. Generally these are decisions for trustees, not the commission – unless the latter believes a breach has been made, in which case it should surely act, not comment to the media.
Letters and comments may be edited. Please send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org or Third Sector, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington TW11 9BE or comment online at www.thirdsector.co.uk