INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Member Viewpoint - Regional groups act as vital resource for amateur fundraisers

DOUGLAS TULLOCH, MInstF is a community fundraiser for the King Edward VII Hospital and chair of the Institute of Fundraising South-East Group

I was delighted to read Lindsay Boswell's hymn of praise for regional groups (Third Sector, 23 October).

For too long I have heard it said that regional groups should be open only to members of the Institute. I have always disagreed with that as non-members of the Institute who are involved in some aspect of fundraising have, if anything, more need of the networking and advice that the regional groups can offer.

There are many reasons why regional meetings are well attended. Here in the South-East many of the regular attendees at our meetings are not members of the Institute. Some are sole fundraisers or members of small voluntary organisations, some are looking for work in the sector, some are retired from full-time work but remain interested and have a lot to offer to our younger and less experienced members.

We all know that there are more and more organisations now fundraising - we've all been approached by our local church, school, village hall, playing field association and their fundraising is done mostly by well meaning amateurs. To be able to point them in the direction of best practice must be a benefit to the profession.

It makes no sense to deny access to the people who need it most. It's all very well for those of us in paid employment to say membership is cheap - and the direct debit system helps too - but there are others for whom this is just not so.

We will always encourage membership of the Institute but, in my opinion, the regions, more importantly, provide practical support, encouragement and guidance. It's good to see this recognised.

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