Opponents of the voluntary sector's close acquaintance with government were given extra ammunition during 2004 when it was revealed that government cash made up an unprecedented 37 per cent of sector income.
This was accompanied by a slight drop in individual donations, from £7.3bn to £7.1bn, according to the latest NCVO and CAF figures. Business, meanwhile, contributed just 4.3 per cent of sector income, despite widespread public perception that it stumps up almost a quarter.
Face-to-face fundraising, which has helped to transform charity fundraising in recent years, suffered a setback when the Push Consultancy and Fruitful Fundraising went into administration. Their collapse raised doubts about the management of the professional agencies and led to a hike in fees from the surviving agencies. As a result, some charities are now bringing their street fundraising operations in-house.
Negative press coverage about face to face spurred some in the sector to action. A group of leading fundraising and finance directors, led by Shelter's Alan Gosschalk, came together to develop a pro-active media and information strategy on fundraising costs. The anticipated blueprint, for use by all charities, is expected in January.
The sector also moved ahead with plans for a self-regulatory system for fundraising, to be managed by the Institute of Fundraising. Proposals for an independent complaints adjudicator and council, as outlined in Rodney Buse's February report, will be part of the framework, which is being seed-funded by the Home Office and should be operational by April 2005.
The Government showed interest in improving the sustainable income of the sector, and to that end has supported payroll giving, share giving and Gift Aid. But the arrival of the Big Lottery Fund sparked accusations that the Government was planning to turn the £600m fund into a branch of central government public service funding.
As the Giving Campaign closed in July, its chair Lord Joffe lamented the stinginess of Britain's rich, who gave only 0.7 per cent of their income to charity, compared to 3 per cent among the poorer half of the population.