INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Setting the standard with new best-practice codes

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

Within the next week or two, all members of the Institute of Fundraising will receive their 2004 copy of The Codes of Fundraising Practice. The first thing to do when you get it is to throw away last year's copy of the 'big red book'.

Following on from the heavy press coverage about fundraising in the past few months, best practice standards are going to become even more important in 2004. This is the second year we have printed the codes as a stand-alone publication, and they are already a regular reference document for fundraisers.

Each code is laid out to be a support and help, and not just a list of rules and standards. Each code covers what the law requires in each particular technique of fundraising (we use the word "must"), what the standards of membership require a fundraiser to follow as best practice (we use the word "ought") and other helpful tips and pointers (we use the word "should").

One code is a new addition to the book, and another has undergone revision since last year's publication. The code on fundraising from grant-making trusts is new, having been finished during last year. The code covering reciprocal mailings has been revised.

As self-regulation kicks in during 2004, the codes will play an increasingly important role as the standard setter for best practice. As such they should be constantly challenged and updated. In some instances aspects of the law may change and need to be reflected. Often particular types of fundraising may reach the public spotlight and be subject to calls for tighter control or regulation. In some instances we may have got the original standards wrong in the first place. Please do get stuck into the codes and challenge them if you feel they are wrong or missing something.

A measure of the success of the codes is, in part, the degree to which they are challenged and developed. They are not meant to be a static document and, like fundraising, should be constantly evolving.

Now to a second publication being sent to all members. One of the most common complaints that reaches my ears from fundraisers is about the lack of engagement, buy-in and understanding from their trustees. The Giving Campaign has produced a new short booklet called Fundraising and Trustees: The Essential Guide. We are sending it to all members so that, when you have that first trustee meeting of 2004, you can get a New Year's resolution out of them to take a closer interest! Pass the book on, and if you have a board that all want a copy then get in touch with the Giving Campaign, which will do all it can to help.

Now is the time of year that many fundraisers have to present their budgets and argue their case for investment in fundraising. Winning this argument may just be a little easier, as the booklet deals with the need for planning for a sustainable future and investing in a diverse set of fundraising activities. You can even quote Mahatma Gandhi to them if you feel you are losing the argument: "The future depends on what we do in the present".

I never realised that Gandhi had difficulties presenting his fundraising strategy as well!

Convention date

And now, from Gandhi to Birmingham, a set of dates for your new diaries.

This year's National Fundraising Convention takes place on 5, 6 and 7 July at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole hotel. Over the past six months, our convention chairman, Julius Wolff-Ingham, has been hard at work with his experienced board to pull together inspirational and challenging workshops and sessions proposed by literally hundreds of fundraisers. You'll be able to have a sneak preview of the exciting programme at the beginning of March.

In the meantime, we are delighted that the Charities Minister, Fiona Mactaggart, has accepted our invitation to deliver the opening address on Monday 5 July. This speech will be perfectly timed to comment and challenge us on all the serious issues facing fundraising in terms of the draft Charities Bill and self-regulation. Watch this space for new and thought-provoking developments for this year's event.

The National Convention is a must-attend event, which will offer you a unique opportunity to learn, compare best practice, network and be motivated to do your job better.

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