INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: The Cabinet's proposals have hit a balanced note

LINDSAY BOSWELL, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

Editorial deadlines mean that I have to submit these words only three hours after the Cabinet Office has finally released its report proposing the biggest overhaul of charity regulation for 400 years.

The Institute of Fundraising has spent a considerable amount of time and effort over the past year or so trying to influence the attitudes and perceptions around fundraising. In general terms, the final report strikes a much more balanced note than some of the rhetoric during the consultation period. But we shouldn't be surprised by this, after all, that is what consultation periods are for.

No doubt the headlines are about the proposed changes from the Charity Commission into the Charity Regulation Authority and the recommended alterations to the way charities report. But what about the fundraising proposals?

As you see below, some of it we clearly disagree with, even after just a few hours.

The report calls for greater levels of Government support for existing schemes of self-regulation. The Code of Conduct, which covers some 20 Codes of Fundraising Practice and the Donors Charter, has evolved and developed over the past 19 years. Fundraisers and fundraising organisations have financed this from their own pockets alone. Perhaps one of the largest self-regulatory schemes in the voluntary sector might finally get some additional help.

The report calls for the greater development and wider introduction of a code of conduct and codes of fundraising practice. I couldn't agree more and I suspect that all those who sign up to our current codes agree with me. Where we have struggled previously is to get the awareness and existence of the codes out to a totally sector-wide audience. In the past two years, the codes have been openly available to anybody and we have been encouraging their standards as much as possible. The report recommends that self-regulation might be achieved through a membership scheme. I clearly applaud that comment.

The report then recommends, and I quote: "Government should support, with seed-corn funding, a new fundraising body to develop the self-regulatory initiative. The body would become self-financing, perhaps by a small levy on donated income, although the method of financing would be a matter for the body itself. This would be based on a new voluntary Code of Practice designed to promote good practice in fundraising, and to raise awareness of the sector's commitment to good practice among the general public."

Surely this will be done with close liaison with fundraisers and include one of those favourite words of Government that is pretty popular with us too: partnership.

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