IoF can expel organisational members, new document shows

Disciplinary and complaints regulations, published by the IoF on Friday, say all types of members can be removed if their membership is considered harmful to the umbrella body's interests

The Institute of Fundraising published a disciplinary procedure on Friday permitting it to expel individual, organisational and corporate members from the body after it was criticised earlier in the week by its former director for not having disciplined members in the past.

The IoF’s new disciplinary and complaints regulations state that all types of members of the institute could be expelled as members if their membership was considered harmful to the interests of the body.

The IoF also published a new code of conduct last Friday, requiring members to "commit to the highest standards of fundraising" and to abide at all times by the Code of Fundraising Practice, responsibility for which transferred to the Fundraising Regulator last week.

This comes after Stephen Lee, an honorary fellow of the IoF and professor of voluntary sector management at Cass Business School, accused the institute of experiencing a "crisis of governance", saying at its annual general meeting on Tuesday that it had neglected its duties by not disciplining the organisations involved with the fundraising scandals of last year.

He later expressed concern in a blog for Third Sector that the IoF was leaving itself with no apparent means to hold its membership to account by transferring the code of practice to the new Fundraising Regulator.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, initially responded to Lee at the AGM, where he said that organisational members were not "legal members" of the body and complaints about them had therefore been passed on to the Fundraising Standards Board.

He later said in a statement published on the IoF website that it would be an unnecessary duplication of resources if the IoF investigated organisational members that were accused of poor fundraising practice at the same time as other regulators.

But the new regulations state that members – including organisational members – will have their memberships revoked if resolutions resolving to expel them are passed at IoF trustee meetings.

Other sanctions available include suspending their membership, reprimanding them or giving them a written warning. Individual members could also have their eligibility for office within the IoF reviewed and have their membership grade redesignated, and organisational members may be ordered to remove their representatives and to replace them with other representatives approved by the institute.

The regulations state that they were agreed on 22 June by the IoF’s trustee board and supersede the body’s previous complaints and disciplinary regulations.

A spokesman for the IoF said the new procedure was not influenced by Lee’s comments last week.

Asked why Lewis did not mention the new process when defending the IoF’s actions in the past, he said it had wanted to wait until the code of practice had transferred to the new regulator.

He said the principles behind the IoF’s revised procedure had not changed. "As we explained at our AGM last week, it is individual members who make up our formal membership for the purposes of company law."

He declined to say whether the IoF intended to launch any disciplinary action against its members Save the Children, Unicef UK, Action for Children and the Children’s Trust for employing the agency Neet Feet, which was accused in today’s Sun newspaper of employing fundraisers who targeted elderly people with aggressive doorstep techniques.

"Our revised complaints procedure – agreed at our last board meeting in June – was refreshed in the light of the establishment of the new Fundraising Regulator," the spokesman said in a statement.

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