George Kidd: The man of many parts who will help to reinvent self-regulation

He was unveiled as chair of the Fundraising Preference Service working group at the fundraising summit in early December

George Kidd
George Kidd

Twenty-four hours after being appointed to chair the working group that will decide on the implementation of the Fundraising Preference Service proposed by Sir Stuart Etherington's review of fundraising self-regulation, George Kidd was at the podium talking to a room full of fundraisers.

"Because I've been sprung on you, I'm going to give you two minutes about myself," he told the audience at the fundraising summit hosted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in December. Modestly, he failed to mention that his various roles include being chief executive of the Online Dating Association, the trade body for dating websites such as


Instead, he outlined the elements of his background most pertinent to his new role: he is chair of the Direct Marketing Association, the trade body for direct marketing professionals, chief commissioner of the Direct Marketing Commission, the regulator that investigates breaches of the Direct Marketing Association's code of practice, and former chief executive of PhonepayPlus, the regulator of premium-rate telephone services.

"So I have been there and done it," he said in his Aberdonian accent.

The major part of Kidd's career has been spent working for the government: he spent 22 years at the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Office. He has also been involved in the regulation of various industries and with the Telephone Preference Service, although he said he did not regard himself as an advocate of it. "Regulation is what I do," he said. "Whether it's annoying or ignorant, I'll let you decide later."

Kidd, who has two grown-up daughters and has lived in London since he was 17, tells Third Sector, in response to emailed questions, that he believes his experience at PhonepayPlus - which moved from a self-regulatory model to a co-regulatory one when its parent regulator, Ofcom, was created in 2003 - gave him experience with "governance, compliance, code-writing and sector-relationship issues", which should be useful in his new role.

He plans to announce who will be joining him on the FPS working group by Christmas and says that the group aims to finish its work by the summer.

Public trust

Kidd's email, peppered with exclamation marks, speaks of a strong desire to uphold public trust and confidence. "Standards and regulation should underpin this trust and give sectors the confidence to invest and innovate," he says. Referring to his work with the Online Dating Association, he says this principle is just as relevant to dating as to fundraising.

Mike Lordan, director of external affairs at the DMA, says that it recommended Kidd to the Cabinet Office after he helped the DMC develop its code of practice over the past five years.

He describes Kidd as a personable man who asks pertinent questions of companies that receive complaints and gets "really quite upset" when he feels that consumers are being short-changed.

'Rounded person'

Kidd is a rounded individual, says Lordan, who enjoys talking about football - he told the summit that he was a Millwall fan - and attending pop concerts. Lordan agrees that Kidd comes from a similar demographic to the other two men who have been tasked with reinventing fundraising regulation - Etherington and the Conservative peer Lord Grade - but says he is also very down to earth. "He is a bright, ordinary guy - the type you can go for a beer with."

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