INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Charities' public image is linked to fundraising

LINDSAY BOSWELL, chief executive at the Institute of Fundraising

I am delighted to announce the link up between Third Sector and the Institute of Fundraising. Elsewhere on this page, we discuss the role and work of the Institute. In this first column I want to explain why I approached Third Sector and how this reflects our widening role.

For many charities, the most public face they present is through fundraising.

If you say "Oxfam

to someone then the mental picture of one of their (recently revamped) shops competes with the images of the work they do in, say, east Africa. The Prince's Trust and pop concerts, Marie Curie Cancer Care and daffodils. Most of us don't have personal experience of Third World poverty, disadvantaged youth unemployment or the working of a hospice.

Fundraising not only secures the vital unrestricted income to allow many charities to operate; it has a major impact on the image of that charity.

This is partly why this week's National Fundraisers' Conference in Birmingham has a communications flavour to it.

You might have thought that the fundraising department, or often the lone fundraiser, would be at the very heart of their charity. I am sure there are examples where this is the case (and could you please tell me so we can profile best practice), but there is a wealth of evidence which suggests this is often wide of the mark.

Many fundraisers feel that the management above them does not understand or want to understand the job they do and how they do it. I refer specifically to trustees, chief executives and finance directors. The same can be said about those who deal with service delivery. If you are in any of these positions, are you only concerned with getting the money in or are you examining the impact on your image and reputation at the same time? Do you just leave that to the fundraisers to decide?

The Institute of Fundraising's name is a very deliberate statement.

Fundraising is not just the responsibility of those with the word in their title, we aim to engage with an audience that encompasses the full width of employment across the not-for-profit sector.

In so doing, we will be supporting those who regard themselves as fundraisers and are potentially members of the Institute dealing with issues such as inappropriate target setting, lack of ownership, impact of fundraising, investment in fundraising capacity and so on.

We will be seeking to achieve this objective, in part, through a regular voice in Third Sector.

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