OPINION: Thinkpiece - Funds are what charities need, trust is a given

With regret, I will be leaving the UK charity sector in January 2004, for a good reason - I'm moving abroad. In 14 years, I have seen many changes. Sadly, one of the biggest shake-ups is likely to take place after my departure.

Rodney Buse's report on the future of the self-regulation of charity fundraising came out last month, and I can't stress enough that fundraisers across the UK should get involved.

There are a number of issues in the report with which I strongly disagree.

For example, am I the only fundraiser who thinks that the main objective of self-regulation should not be the enhancement of long-term public trust in the sector's fundraising activities, but enabling charities to work as efficiently and effectively as possible, while exploring the best fundraising avenues to achieve maximum voluntary income? Trust is secondary to this, and should be implicit in everything we do.

I also question where this public "mistrust" of charities has come from.

I have yet to see any evidence to convince me that there is a lack of trust in the charity sector in general. I disagree with Geraldine Peacock that "what affects one organisation affects us all" (Third Sector, 3 September).

When Barings Bank experienced its difficulties in 1993, did this make the public mistrust the banking world? No, but it encouraged banks to ensure that such an eventuality did not occur again.

Whether you agree with me or not, I urge you to register your opinion.

We must actively participate and buy into the implementation of self-regulation when the time comes.

Terrence Higgins Trust has never been afraid to put its opinions forward.

We're working with an unpopular cause, and some of the views we promote will be contentious, but that should not be a reason to stop speaking out. Joanna Van Driel is executive director of marketing at Terrence Higgins Trust

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