INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Regional groups rely on strong communications

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

If your year-end falls at the end of March, then the chances are you are stuck in the middle of audit time.

For once the audit at the Institute has quantified one fact that has been clear to me all year. As well as being a successful 12 months for the Institute as a whole, it has also been an incredibly successful year for the branches. The Institute has a wide range of special interest groups, national and regional groups.

However, we are no different to many organisations and too often fall under the pull of London and the South East. This is made doubly worse by the voluntary sector where so many of the larger organisations are based either in, or close to, the capital.

Certainly many of the special interest groups feel this is a problem and those that have replicated their well-attended London-based events in other parts of the UK have really struggled.

The key is linking up the national, regional and special interest groups and this growth has been one of the reasons for a really successful year.

If you are based in a part of the country that makes you feel isolated, then get in touch with your local branch. You don't need to be a member or a fundraiser, but you must be prepared to be persuaded on both counts.

The internet provides great support but there is nothing like face-to-face contact. Go to the national, regional and special interest group pages at www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk and just look at the range and regularity of events the branches run helping fundraisers all over the country connect together.

The annual meeting for the Institute in Scotland this week will review a hugely successful year of training and networking events. In Wales, equally exciting activities are under way. Last year, we were fortunate enough to persuade the National Assembly of Wales to provide some pilot support for the fundraising community in Wales.

Margaret Bond was taken on as a part-time consultant to plan events and kick-start the growth of the Institute in Wales. Following on from her work, we have secured further funding from the National Assembly of Wales.

We are also delighted to welcome Dot Griew as the Institute's new national co-ordinator for Wales. Griew comes to us after a career which has included working at the NHS, the Red Cross and, most recently, the Abbeyfield Society. This growth will continue and also ensure that we strive to support all fundraisers across the whole of the UK.

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