The Institute of Fundraising and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association have formed a two-year strategic partnership that will involve the self-regulatory bodies pooling their budgets to deliver joint projects in the areas of policy research, communications and compliance.
The partnership, which starts this month and will last until July 2017, will also involve the IoF delivering training to fundraisers who break face-to-face fundraising rules, as reported by Third Sector in March.
The strategic partnership agreement, published yesterday by the two bodies, says the training will be funded by the PFRA using income from fines on members who break the rules.
Other elements of the agreement include: establishing a joint executive group to ensure the alignment of the IoF Code of Fundraising Practice and the PFRA Rule Book; sharing the PFRA’s compliance data with the IoF on an anonymous basis "where sector-wide systemic issues are identified"; and implementing a jointly funded research and development programme that will benchmark charity fundraising performance and produce an annual review of the sector.
Under the agreement, the bodies will also collaborate – with the Charity Commission, the Fundraising Standards Board and others – to influence the development of government policy on fundraising, with the PFRA taking responsibility for engaging local government and the police, business improvement districts and community safety partnerships. The IoF will take the lead on lobbying national government.
The PFRA and the IoF will also establish a joint communications programme, which will include providing support for each other’s functions and holding joint events.
Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive of the PFRA, told Third Sector that the pooled research budgets were one of the most significant elements of the partnership.
"We want to make sure we’re completely aligned in terms of research into the things that really matter, particularly around public trust and confidence, to help us make decisions moving forward," he said. "In the past we’ve worked together, so it seems to make sense to pool the budgets, to get more bang for our buck, so we can go out and speak to universities, research centres and individual freelancers with a bigger budget to do more ambitious work."
He said the PFRA had committed to spending £60,000 of its training budget for the next two years on training conducted by the IoF.
Asked why a formal agreement was needed, Hills-Jones said it was the best way of signalling the level of collaboration between the bodies to the public and to the IoF and PFRA’s members. He said the PFRA conducted a membership survey three months ago and one of the key findings was that the respondents were not clear as to how the bodies were collaborating.
The IoF and the PFRA will both appoint members to a joint committee to review the performance of the partnership in spring 2017.
Asked if the partnership could be seen as pre-cursor to a merger of the two bodies, Hills-Jones said: "It’s ultimately the members who will decide whether the partnership has been a success – and if it is successful, it will lead some to believe we should go further beyond that. We might look at sharing offices or sharing back offices."
But he said that maintaining a strong voice for professional fundraising organisations would be paramount in deciding whether to take further steps to integrate once the partnership comes to an end.