INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Why a single fundraising voice resonates louder

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

Last week, the cost of postage went up by 1p to 28p for first class and 20p for second class. The impact this has on charities is considerable, but you probably knew that already.

Did you also know that Royal Mail is currently consulting over proposals to change some of its costing structure away from a weight-based calculation and on to one of size? If this were to happen it could cost, for example, the National Trust up to £1 million a year extra. Still, it might also kill off the pen in direct mail packs, so there is some benefit.

Also, the European Commission is considering plans to impose VAT on national postal services and this may add a further 5p to the cost of sending a letter. How is it that one simple little area such as postage can throw up so many ways of blasting holes through our budgets?

The reason for highlighting these three issues is to help me explain one area of the Institute's work that is fairly low on the individual fundraiser's agenda. We have pooled research on all these areas to allow the fundraising world to speak with one voice. This representational work is strategically vital. Who else is going to fight the fundraising corner unless we develop one central voice?

If we were to add the challenges we face with the fundraising regulatory proposals coming from the Home Office and issues such as the Government proposals to expand fundraising in education, then you have a real need for the fundraising community to address issues of policy.

Three years ago, most of this work was paid for by individual membership subscriptions. Over the past three years, we have worked hard to build organisational membership specifically to increase our ability to represent fundraising.

Individual membership is principally built around helping fundraisers do their job better. Training, networking, seminars and conferences give support while the two-tiered professional development model linked to the Certificate in Fundraising Management allows experienced and ambitious fundraisers move up the career ladder. More and more employers want to know that they are employing a fundraiser who has proved themselves. And once they are hired, supporting a good fundraiser in their professional development is a much more cost-effective way of keeping them than just a small pay rise.

These two distinct areas of our work complement each other as we strive to grow the voice and position of fundraising in an increasingly professional world.

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