There should be one body for the self-regulation of fundraising, Paul Stallard, chair of the Public Fundraising Regulation Association, has said.
Stallard was speaking last week at the face-to-face fundraising membership body’s annual general meeting, where he was re-elected for a second three-year term.
"I have said in public that I believe there should be one body," he said.
But he said he would be worried about the interruption that bringing together the various self-regulatory bodies – the PFRA, the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Standards Board – would cause. Because of this, he said, it might be better to make the existing structure work than to make changes for the sake of it.
He said: "You can imagine what the media would do if we suddenly announced one body. They’d say: ‘Well, what are you going to do next?’"
Speaking to Third Sector, he said he was unsure whether the FRSB should be part of a merged self-regulatory body.
Stallard said at the event that he agreed with Alistair McLean, chief executive of the Fundraising Standards Board, that the death of Olive Cooke last month represented a "watershed moment" for the sector.
He said now was not the time for the sector to be dwelling on its successes but instead to acknowledge the huge challenges it faced in restoring public confidence.
He said the biggest, most immediate actions needed to be taken by fundraisers themselves rather than the regulators.
"Creating rules and regulations on the hoof is unlikely to address the real issue," Stallard said. "Behaviours have to change. I know the pressure to raise more and more money is intense and the intensity will increase in the years to come, but you mistreat the public at your peril."
He said the fundraising self-regulators had not done enough to get the message out to the public that self-regulation was a legitimate and robust way of holding the sector to account.
Although some people said the recent media coverage of Cooke’s death was unjust in presenting charities as responsible, he said, some of them had reported "uncomfortable truths". He said the point was that the case had touched a public nerve and there was clearly simmering resentment among the public about some fundraising practice.
Charities could not be worthy of donors’ trust if they did not know – and were not able to communicate – what happened to donors’ contact details and account information once they were in the possession of charities, said Stallard.
The re-election of Stallard, who is director and founder of the financial services consultancy Hurndall-Stallard Associates, will take him up to the maximum six-year term as PFRA chair. He will be paid £14,000 for working 55 days a year, an increase from £12,000 when he was appointed in 2012.
At last week’s AGM, Kevin Osborne-King, national regular giving manager at Marie Curie Cancer Care, was appointed to the board for a three-year term, replacing Annemarie Devlin, who is individual giving manager at Sense Scotland.
Abi Corney, head of supporter recruitment at the National Deaf Children's Society; Jane Colvin, managing director at the Tim Lilley Fundraising Consultancy; and Russ Peterken, head of standards, policy and access at Home Fundraising, were re-elected to the board for an additional three years each.