The Institute of Fundraising and the Public Fundraising Association should merge, the review into fundraising self-regulation by Sir Stuart Etherington has recommended.
The review, published today, says that the IoF and the PFRA should form a single professional fundraising body that should focus on promoting best practice through training and development. The regulatory aspects of the PFRA’s work – such as sanctioning organisations that break street fundraising rules – should be transferred to a newly established fundraising regulator.
It says there have hitherto been "poor relationships" between the IoF, the PFRA and the Fundraising Standards Board because of the overlap of responsibilities and functions of the bodies, overlapping memberships that waste charity resources and a confusing duplication of rules.
The review says that the PFRA rulebook should be merged with the Code of Fundraising Practice, which should be overseen by the new regulator. PFRA activities such as the allocation of space for street fundraising and mystery shopping should be undertaken by the new IoF.
"Many respondents suggested that the IoF and the PFRA should merge or work more closely together," says the review. "We believe that a merger between these organisations is appropriate, given their focus on supporting members and providing business-to-business services. The merger of IoF and PFRA would ensure more consistency between street fundraising practices and other fundraising methods."
The review notes that there was evidence of greater collaboration between the IoF and PFRA while the review was being undertaken this summer.
Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, told Third Sector that the IoF and the PFRA had each received approval from their boards during the last few weeks to start merger discussions.
The two bodies announced in July that they had formed a two-year strategic partnership and would consider a merger at the end of it if it was successful. Lewis said today that they were now looking at expediting this process in the light of Etherington’s review.
He also said in a statement: "We are pleased Sir Stuart’s report supports our potential merger with the PFRA to create a single membership body for fundraising, and the greater role we can then play representing and training fundraisers, championing best practice and helping charities to comply with the very highest standards of fundraising."
Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive of the PFRA, said in a statement that the two organisations would consult with their respective members over the merger plans this autumn and a final decision would be ratified next summer.
He added: "Sir Stuart’s report endorses feedback from our members that compliance is something they want delivered jointly by ourselves and the IoF, with regulation overseen separately by an effective and truly independent body. A new approach will see compliance rather than regulation become our primary focus."