INSTITUTE OF FUNDING: Regional groups assist in building knowledge pool

LINDSAY BOSWELL, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

Over the past few weeks, the Institute has been very focused on the core reason for membership: the standards and ethics that go with the codes of fundraising practice.

Indeed, we have just completed a review of the Institute's disciplinary procedures and will be making some changes over the next few months.

However, there have also been some developments around another hugely important area, that of networking and access to knowledge and information.

First, some general comments. You don't have to be a member of the Institute to benefit from the many networks that exist. You will end up paying more than members to benefit and you may not be able to enjoy all the same opportunities. The reason for this is that the Institute wants to link and have dialogue with as wide a range of fundraising professionals and organisations as possible. Once we are talking, we can then explain about the codes of practice and how both you as an individual and a fundraising organisation should sign up to those standards.

The Institute runs a series of groups that represent national needs in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as the English regional areas. In addition, there are special interest groups focusing on fundraising technique or concern. All of these groups, more than 24 in total, are run by volunteers and their growth is determined by the drive and energy of those volunteers and the response from the rest of the fundraising community.

The Institute is now delicately adding central resource and support to these networks. The appointment of a full-time co-ordinator to help channel the work of these groups and to try and ensure that their volunteering is in areas of most impact, has just been made. The word delicately is used advisedly. It is the Institute's aim to support and add to the work of these groups and not to inhibit or stifle their activities.

A good example of this is the way that we can bring the work of the groups to a wider audience. We are making better use of the web and email as a tool for communicating. It is a fact of life that the majority of meetings are likely to be biased towards the South East. This reflects the shape and structure of the voluntary sector and the strong national and regional groups add an excellent counter-balance to this bias.

Through the membership section of the web site, we are linking some 2,500 fundraisers with these networks in a way which breaks down many of the boundaries of geography.

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