INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: The law is never enough to ensure best practice

LINDSAY BOSWELL, is chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

We all like to think we follow best practice. At least most of us say we do and, if challenged, I don't know anybody who would openly admit to deliberately following second best practice or whatever comes next.

Best practice is a word that is heard and used a lot at the Institute of Fundraising. It is what we are about, it's what we try and do and certainly what we promote. But what is it and where does it come from?

In our case best practice relates to our Codes of Fundraising Practice.

These codes cover specific areas of fundraising techniques and are broken down into three sections: what the law says, what best practice requires and other useful advice and help.

The law bit is easy. Break this and you are in trouble. Just how up to date are you with the charities act of blahdy blah, sub section etc. etc.?

No, nor am I. So, before we even touch on best practice, a document that breaks down the law for that specific activity might just be of use. As a manager you can quickly read the few paragraphs and run a quick check on one of those many visits you do. You know, when you get out of the office and go to a fundraising event.

Now the best practice bit. Recently at a seminar a senior lawyer in the sector said that, as far as he was concerned, trustees were not doing their job if there was an accepted level of best practice and they were not following these standards. Sounds pretty sensible as an isolated statement. However, it suddenly makes you want to take a closer interest in these codes. Where have they come from? Who wrote them? What consultation took place?

The Codes of Fundraising Practice have evolved over the past 19 years.

Their creation is overseen by the Institute's standards committee, which uses leading lawyers, accountants and fundraisers and adds the expertise and guidance of the Home Office and the Charity Commission. A team of experienced individuals, covering all disciplines necessary, then drafts each code.

Because the codes are linked to the standards we expect of our members, they are then given a wide consultation across fundraising charities before being adopted as an addition to the pack. So far there are 20 codes with the latest being launched last month.

The codes are available to anybody, not just members. If you want to know more then you can access them from www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk or talk to the policy team on 020 7627 3436.

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