Lindsay Boswell resigns from advisory group in protest at lack of 'practical' projects

Institute of Fundraising chief plans new think tank to research donor motivation and behaviour

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, has resigned from the advisory panel for the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy because he says the research body has not pursued projects that are of practical use to fundraisers.

He plans to concentrate instead on establishing a new think tank at the institute to research fundraising behaviour and donor motivation. It will be chaired by Professor Stephen Lee, faculty director for strategy at Henley Business School, and will have a steering panel of charity personnel.

Boswell has had a place on the advisory panel alongside representatives from the Office of the Third Sector, the Scottish Government, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Carnegie Trust, which combined to set the centre up in 2007 with £2.2m of funding.

The centre, based at the Cass Business School in London, split its £2.2m of funding between four universities, but left £600,000 spare for other projects and is expected to announce next month which ones it will select.

The Fundraising Standards Board and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association have also been lobbying since August for it to spend the money on research that would produce practical advice for fundraisers.

Boswell said: "Some of the new projects that get funded may well have practical fundraising applications. But in allocating the funds, the centre has not mapped the research that is already available and tried to find out what fundraisers need.

"At the last two advisory board meetings, I have pushed for fundraising research that responds to knowledge gaps and will help fundraisers raise more money. I do not believe this will be achieved, so I have written to third sector minister Angela Smith explaining our withdrawal."

Boswell said he did not think this would damage the institute's relationship with the Office of the Third Sector. "We have a good, robust relationship," he said. "We agree on some things and disagree on others."

 

RESEARCH CENTRE TIMELINE

2006: Ed Miliband, then Minister for the Third Sector, announces a charitable giving research centre that will have about £2m of funding from the Office of the Third Sector, the Scottish Government, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Carnegie Trust.

2007: Cass Business School in London is designated the centre's 'hub', with three other universities as its 'spokes'. Fundraising professor Adrian Sargeant warns it might be of little help to fundraisers.

October 2008: Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy opens, publishing a paper on economic issues facing fundraisers.

July 2009: Sargeant asks it to spend its remaining funds on research of practical use to fundraisers.

August 2009: Fundraising Standards Board and Public Fundraising Regulatory Association support Sargeant. The ESRC responds: "We have no reason to change our funding guidelines."

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