Almost three years ago to the day, Third Sector's then editor ran an article outlining her Christmas wish list. Included on that list was an Institute of Fundraising that wasn't so inwardly looking and engaged with the rest of the sector. Three years later, much has changed but much remains the same.
The big challenge facing the Institute at present is to respond to the gauntlet thrown down by the Strategy Unit. Although this only applies to England and Wales, the repercussions are bound to impact and influence thinking in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Institute has just put the finishing touches to our formal response to the report and I will be writing to all members explaining the outline of our reply over the next few weeks. (This should at least rival the excitement of the Christmas card round robin letters we all get from distant relatives updating us on the growing pains of their families.)
This reply has been available in draft form on the Institute's web site as it has developed over the past two months. The level of responses and feed-in to the submission has been quite excellent.
Clearly the core basis of our submission is to show just how much of what the report calls for can be achieved through working with the Institute.
We are not stupid or arrogant enough not to realise that there are big implications for us. These include the need to increase our transparency about how we develop standards and to be prepared to challenge all of our current working practices. Much of this we had been reviewing already but the report led us to accelerate the processes.
The publication last week of the Codes of Fundraising Practice as a stand-alone publication for the first time is a classic example. Twice in the past three years we asked the Government to support our policy work in this way, but have been unsuccessful in making our case. We therefore took the decision to print and distribute beyond the membership for the first time. Now the Codes are distributed to local authorities, CVSs and Citizen Advice Bureaux as well as the big fundraising charities.
Another key area for the Institute is the enforcement of standards. The recent extraordinary general meeting allowed the Institute to alter its governing documents so we could put into place a fairer appeals process for disciplinary cases. The special resolutions were passed and the next step is to look closely at those procedures and ensure they meet with our needs and the approval of the membership.