An online petition calling for Lord Michael Grade to resign as chair of the Fundraising Regulator has garnered support from fundraisers after his comments in The Daily Telegraph and on BBC Radio 4 last week.
The petition, started two days ago on the petition website Change.org, had attracted 84 signatures at the time of writing and was started by a user under the name "Proud to be a Fundraiser".
The petition comes just days after the regulator confirmed that Grade’s term as chair, which was initially an interim appointment up to January 2016, had been extended until the end of 2018.
Grade attracted criticism from sector bodies last week after saying in a national newspaper article that too many charities were "proving to be laggards" and were failing to address public concerns about fundraising.
He then appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme and gave out incorrect information about how the FPS would work, mistakenly saying it would allow people to block contact from all charities at once, rather than specific charities.
He has previously described fundraising as "the Wild West" and fundraisers as "rogues and cowboys".
The petition calls on Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, to "initiate a process to replace Lord Grade immediately and find a chairman who is willing and able to represent donors and not-for-profit organisations responsibly".
The person who started the petition, who did not wish to be named, told Third Sector they were not expecting to attract thousands of signatures, but it was "a gesture of support" for a strong relationship between the Fundraising Regulator and the fundraising community.
"It’s not just to stir things up for the sake of it," the person said. "Having the regulator is critically important and every fundraiser I speak to recognises that, but having that trust of the regulator, the donor and charities is the fundamental basis of moving forward."
The person said Grade’s comments had been "disrespectful and myopic" and risked "forcing a wedge rather than forging a bond" between donors, charities and the regulator.
The text accompanying the petition describes the extension of Grade’s term as unacceptable, describing his comments as "broad sweeping statements to deliberately court controversy and fan the flames of division and discontent".
It warns that Grade’s comments could result in charities becoming wary of engaging with the regulator, believing they would not get a fair hearing, and donors being put off making donations.
Ian MacQuillin, director of the fundraising think tank Rogare, was among the signatories.
In his comment on the Change.org website explaining why he had signed, he said: "I reluctantly made a call for Lord Grade's resignation because I believe his public comments, which showed contempt for fundraisers and a lack of knowledge of his own organisation, mean he is bringing regulation of fundraising into disrepute at a time when we need a leader of the regulator who can build bridges and consensus, and regulate with the sector, not at it, to rebuild public trust in fundraising."
The Fundraising Regulator declined to comment.