I won't hold back from criticising charities where necessary, pledges Lord Harris

The chair of the Fundraising Regulator says there is an arrogance to charities that have refused to pay its voluntary levy

Lord Harris of Haringey
Lord Harris of Haringey

Lord Harris, chair of the Fundraising Regulator, has said he will not refrain from criticising the sector in strong terms if necessary.

Harris, who took over from Lord Grade at the helm of the regulator’s board in January, told Third Sector in an interview that he believed he had a different style of leadership from that of his predecessor.

Grade attracted condemnation from the sector on multiple occasions throughout his three-year tenure for attacking fundraisers and charities in the national media, describing them as "cowboys" operating in a lawless "wild west" in one interview and "laggards" in another.

But despite the differences, Harris said, he would not hold back where he felt charities’ behaviour needed to be addressed.

"I suspect I’ll be coming to this from a different perspective, but I could say the same sort of thing," he said, particularly about charities that refused to pay the voluntary levy that funds the regulator.

Charities that spend more than £100,000 a year on fundraising are asked to pay a voluntary annual levy of between £150 and £15,000to fund the regulator, based on their spending on fundraising.

"I suspect I will use a colourful turn of phrase to describe them, but a different turn of phrase from Lord Grade," Harris said.

He said he thought there was an arrogance to the charities that had refused to pay because it suggested they believed their work was perfect and they did not need to contribute to the smooth running of the sector.

He said he hoped to help the sector adjust to a future that was likely to involve an increased focus on digital technology and transparency.  

"I haven’t come with a series of agendas, but what I’ve come with is an understanding of the need to respond to an ever-changing environment," Harris said.

"I’m not somebody who’s just interested in making sure something ticks over and stays the same – because it can’t."

The full interview with Harris will be published on the Third Sector website later this week.

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