IoF 'should have expelled members' during fundraising crisis, says academic

Stephen Lee, the professor of voluntary sector management at Cass Business School, says the fundraising body has contravened its articles of association by not doing so

The Institute of Fundraising is experiencing a "crisis of governance" and has neglected its duties by not disciplining the organisations involved with the fundraising scandals of last year, according to its former director Professor Stephen Lee.

Speaking from the audience at the IoF’s annual general meeting today, which was held in London during the IoF Convention, Lee, professor of voluntary sector management at Cass Business School and a former director of the IoF, said that the membership body had failed to ensure that its members abided by its code of conduct.

Citing a number of different rules detailed in the IoF’s articles of association, Lee, who is also an honorary fellow of the IoF, said the body’s trustees had had a responsibility to remove members from the institute who were in breach of its code of practice and code of conduct. He said that the trustees had contravened several articles by not doing so.

He asked what actions the trustees had taken to remove IoF membership from the charities the British Red CrossMacmillan Cancer Support, the NSPCC and Oxfam, and the agencies NTT and Listen, all of whom were found to be in breach of the rules. He asked why the IoF had not taken action against senior fundraisers working within these organisations.

Richard Taylor, chair of the IoF and director of fundraising, marketing and communications at Macmillan, said in response: "I represent one of those organisations that was investigated and found to be in breach of the two codes. We have corrected those practices. I’m not sure why you think that would lead to the expulsion of that charity as a member of the IoF."

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, asked Lee if they could have a conversation behind closed doors, but Lee declined. Lewis said in response: "When complaints are made about organisations, we have an agreement with the Fundraising Standards Board that it investigates those complaints because its has the resources we don’t and it imposes the sanctions it sees fit. The due process of investigation has been undertaken."

Lewis added that when the IoF received complaints against individual fundraisers, it investigated them: "The agreed process is to pass on complaints about organisational members, who are not our legal members, to the FRSB."

Lee said this was untrue. "Peter, I’m sorry, you don’t know your own constitution – you do have legal organisational members," he said.

Another delegate said the articles of association were out of date and needed updating. Taylor said the IoF would respond to him on the matter.

Several delegates approached Lee once the AGM had concluded to say that they agreed with the points he raised. One, who wished to remain anonymous, told Third Sector they were unhappy that the IoF had allowed organisations that had faced sanctions, and senior individuals working within them, to remain members of the body.

"It’s all very well to allow the FRSB to do the investigations – but if the investigations are upheld, what does that say about the individuals who are in charge of those organisations?" the delegate said. "Is it OK to commit a crime if you then make up for it afterwards?"

The delegate said the IoF had expelled individuals in the past but this had happened very rarely.

- See Stephen Lee's blog on why he spoke up at the IoF annual general meeting

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