The Institute of Fundraising is planning to apply to the Privy Council for a royal charter, a distinction granted to professional institutions or charities that can demonstrate pre-eminence, stability and permanence in their fields.
Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, confirmed at the Charity Finance Group’s Risk Conference in London last month that the body was "on the journey to chartered status". He has declined to give further details at this stage.
Adrian Sargeant, director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy and an IoF trustee, has said that obtaining a royal charter would boost the reputation of the profession and change the attitude of charity boards to fundraising.
The process starts with an application to the Privy Council, known as an informal memorandum, to determine whether an official application could be successful. If there is a positive response, the official application is published to allow comment or counter-petitions.
The Privy Council’s website says royal charters are reserved for professional bodies in a field that is unique and not covered by other professional bodies. At least 75 per cent of members should be qualified to first-degree level and the body should operate in the public interest, it adds.
"This last consideration is important, since once incorporated by Royal Charter a body surrenders significant aspects of the control of its internal affairs to the Privy Council," it says. "Amendments to Charters can be made only with the agreement of The Queen in Council, and amendments to the body’s by-laws require the approval of the Council (though not normally of Her Majesty).
"This effectively means a significant degree of government regulation of the affairs of the body, and the Privy Council will therefore wish to be satisfied that such regulation accords with public policy."
It is understood that the institute has conducted an informal poll of individual members, who have given generally positive feedback. Some of the IoF’s larger members and partners are also said to have given their backing for submitting an informal memorandum.
Among more than 900 bodies with a royal charter are City of London livery companies, schools, universities, the RNLI, the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.