Members line up to oppose the prospect of a campaigning DEC

Georgina Lock

The prospect of the Disasters Emergency Committee moving beyond its existing remit of fundraising to take on campaigning as well has met with opposition from member aid agencies.

A number of DEC members have made it clear that they wish the charity to remain a collaborative fundraising organisation and focus more on getting closer to its donors.

Now it has finally closed the door on the busiest year in its history, the DEC has launched a strategic review that will culminate in September this year.

The charity refuses to say what the review will examine, except that it will look at "stakeholders, including donors and the media".

But a clue as to the scope of the review was given by DEC chief executive Brendan Gormley in an interview with Third Sector last month. On the issues of whether member agencies would in future use the DEC to negotiate with the Government or permit it to address the politics of humanitarian relief, he said those questions were yet to be resolved (Third Sector, 11 January).

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children and a DEC board member, said: "The DEC was set up for the big British charities to fundraise and that is what has to be the focus, without any sort of mission creep into other areas."

Her view was echoed by fellow DEC members Cafod and Christian Aid, which agreed that the organisation's most important role had to be to act as the central point for fundraising from the British public for humanitarian causes.

If anything needs to change, they argued, it is that the DEC should do more to make sure people are thanked and that clear information is available about where the money has gone.

Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, said the DEC should find ways to improve its core fundraising function before looking for other areas in which to work.

Chris Bain, director of Cafod, said it should work on maintaining public confidence in the member agencies, provide effective monitoring and evaluation and communicate through the media some of the complexities of delivering humanitarian work.

He added: "It is not the role of the DEC as the DEC to negotiate with government."

Member agencies already collaborated on many occasions, independently of the DEC, to convey their positions on humanitarian policy to government and other global institutions, he said.

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