This is a question that has cropped up a lot recently. On one level it's depressing having to explain, but on another it's exciting. It's exciting because it is an opportunity to engage. It's also exciting because the answers I give normally surprise and please the questioner. Often my description of the Institute does not match what they expected to hear but what they wanted to hear.
The Institute is not just an individual membership organisation. True, we are growing fast and now have over 3,500 individual members. Although these include a wide spread of senior fundraisers, our membership reflects the diversity of the voluntary sector.
I say not "just
an individual membership organisation because we have an incredibly important audience in our organisational members. About a quarter of our organisational members are among the top 100 largest fundraising charities. The others, again, reflect the diversity of the fundraising sector. For the smallest organisations we have even geared the pricing of membership to incentivise organisational membership over individual subscription.
Fundraising charities join for a variety of different reasons. We represent fundraising as a profession and activity in a whole range of different ways, from the development of NVQs for fundraisers through to proposed changes in postal charges to the changing world of society lotteries.
The Institute really came of age during the campaigning led by Stephen Lee around the Charities Act. Now, the Review of Charity Law and Regulation, run by the Cabinet Office, has produced some major proposals that raise concern with many fundraising charities. Within a working day of the publication of the Review's report all the Institute's organisational members had received a summary of those proposals.
All organisational members benefit from the standards that the Codes of Fundraising Practice cover. The 20 Codes, under a general Code of Conduct and Donors' Charter, allow the charity to buy into some existing standards of best practice. It's irrelevant whether individuals are members of the Institute or not. In some cases, the Codes are made a contract of employment as a fundraiser. What better way to fulfil your responsibilities than to follow best practice?
All the Codes of Practice are created as a result of a detailed consultation process. This process is overseen by the Institute's standards committee, which has representatives from both the Charity Commission and the Home Office as observers. The Codes are not designed for members alone but any fundraising organisation that is striving for best practice. The consultation often goes way beyond the voluntary sector. For example, the Code on Charities Working with Business drew from a wide range of experience from the corporate world as well as charities large and small.
THE INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING'S CODES
Acceptance and refusal of donations
- Charities working with business - Charity challenge events
- Data protection
- Fundraising in schools
- Fundraising on the internet
- Handling cash donations
- House-to-house collections
- Legacy fundraising
- Payroll giving
- Management of static collection boxes
- Outdoor fundraising events in the UK
- Payment of fundraisers on a commission basis
- Personal solicitation for committed gifts
- Raffles and lotteries
- Reciprocal charity mailings
- Use of chain letters as a fundraising technique
- Scottish charity law in relation to fundraising and public charitable collections in Scotland
- Telephone fundraising
- Telephone recruitment of collectors
All the Institute's Codes of Fundraising Practice can be viewed at www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk.