INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Buse offers opportunity to shape self-regulation

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

One of the joys of writing this piece is not knowing what is going to appear in the news pages of Third Sector. I have an editorial deadline a long way ahead of publication, so I have no way of knowing how much or how little coverage there will be about the publication of the final report from the Buse Commission. So, if you know this already I apologise, but it is important.

Last Friday, Rodney Buse, after support and feedback from his steering committee, produced his final report recommending a clear future framework and governance structure for the self-regulation of charitable fundraising.

While the final report is not long, it is difficult to capture all the points in this short column. However there are some interesting observations to be made.

- In order to run a simple, clear and understandable scheme, we believe that there should continue to be one collective set of codes of fundraising practice and that all those with an interest in fundraising standards should feed into the construction of these codes. For example, the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association consults its members and makes the major contribution to the code concerning face-to-face fundraising. It then promotes and monitors this standard.

- The Institute currently has organisational membership that represents more than £1.5bn worth of voluntary income. Organisational membership requires the organisation to abide by the codes and is the platform for engaging with all fundraising organisations. We now call on all fundraising organisations to add their voice by joining the organisational scheme and help shape self-regulation. Members will be expected to promote the fact that they sign up to best practice by carrying a logo or quality sign. Membership is not just limited to not-for-profit organisations, but reflects the diversity of the fundraising community and is open to consultants, fundraising suppliers and professional fundraisers.

- We must strive to ensure that smaller community-based organisations can take part through current membership structures of umbrella bodies.

We hope to commission research to investigate ways of making this happen.

- The Institute developed the Donor's Charter in 2000 and we look to develop it along the lines recommended in the report.

- The report recommends the setting up of an oversight body called the Charitable Fundraising Standards Board. As part of our preparedness to implement the recommendations and to keep costs down, the Institute is prepared to provide the CFSB with office space. This will in no way impinge on the board's independence.

- The Institute regards it as essential that this best-practice scheme is run across the whole of the UK.

- The Institute believes the scheme's success depends on the degree of marketing and support. There needs to be close and clear links and support from the regulators in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Membership of the scheme should be reflected in all reporting methods, including the annual report, GuideStar and, if appropriate, the Standard Information Return.

- The Institute believes that recognition for the scheme by funders would help to encourage participation.

- The Institute remains to be convinced that fundraising organisations should pay for an independent CFSB. However, start-up funding will be necessary to cover the work of setting and promoting standards. We agree it is vital that full funding does not result in a loss of independence for the CFSB. Further work needs to be carried out to ensure we have an affordable and inclusive system that everyone, not just the larger organisations can afford to pay.

The core measure of success of self-regulation will be the number of organisations that sign up. A considerable number have already done so and we are approaching many more. We are offering the chance to play a key role in shaping self-regulation. If you would like your organisation to be one of those setting the pace in defining best practice then join.

The Buse report is available from www.busecom and an organisational membership pack can be downloaded from www.Institute-of-fundraising.

We would, of course be pleased to hear from you too!

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