INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Our collective experience is what gives us strength

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

The purpose of this link-up between the Institute of Fundraising and Third Sector is to give fundraising a voice and platform to reach other parts of the voluntary sector. Although this is the 'membership' page of the Institute, many of the issues relate and are relevant to trustees, chief executives, senior managers and other job roles within the sector.

For a large part of the sector, fundraising is just one of many hats worn by people in short-staffed organisations.

Governance is key

Fundraising will always be at the heart of the question, but just ask a fundraising consultant how often they get caught up in non-fundraising issues. If the governance and the structure of a charity are not right and working effectively then the fundraising is likely to fail, or possibly not even start.

Among the 4,000-strong membership of the Institute we have the knowledge and experience to answer most questions. The "I know a man who does" quip sums this up well.

Fundraising faces some interesting challenges over the next few years.

By definition the Institute faces the same. The end of January sees the publication of the core recommendations from the Buse Commission. Although there will be a further chance to feedback your views and opinions on the outcome of Rodney Buse's thinking, he is likely to make some firm recommendations as to how self-regulation should look. We can then finally get past the theory and begin to focus on a practical way forward.

The challenge was laid down by the Strategy Unit report that the sector should introduce a self-regulatory scheme.

We have risen to the challenge and will continue to do so by taking the report's recommendations and talking to government about providing support to implement them. I am already calling on all fundraising charities to lend their names to make this work. We have one chance to get it right and, if we don't, then the draft Charity Bill will give the Home Secretary the powers to set up a government-run scheme.

Collective efforts

Success at one level will be measured by how many charities sign up to the standards. Not wanting to trump the work of Buse, those standards have got into the Codes of Fundraising Practice and sign-up is through the organisational membership scheme of the Institute. Already some 160 different charities have signed up, and I have written to the top 500 charities asking them to add their voice to the movement. Collectively, we cannot afford not to make this work.

Another challenge we face is the increasing need for an impartial strong central voice for fundraising. Many organisations do not feel comfortable speaking out about a single issue or type of fundraising. The Institute is investing to increase its PR and communications resources to help tackle this role. This is another benefit and added value from pulling the fundraising world closer together through self-regulation.

Representative voice

Everyone who signs up to the Institute's membership gets a representative voice and is kept informed of what is happening that could impact on fundraising.

Our 'Policy Highlights' email briefings keeps busy senior fundraising staff informed and allows them to read and forward pertinent information to relevant staff at the click of a button. In the future, organisational members will carry the best-practice logo and publicise this to their donors and supporters. What better way to ensure there is a continued high level of trust and confidence in your organisation, enabling you to concentrate on communicating what a difference you have made with the support of the donating public.

Historically we haven't been very good as a sector at clubbing together and pooling resources. Initiatives like the Legacy Promotion Campaign prove that this approach works. We are now looking to build on the huge amount of work that has gone into creating and updating the Codes of Practice over the past 20 years and to make self-regulation effective at raising public confidence in the right, applicable way that is both manageable and affordable, and that makes sense.

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