What do Rob Wilson, the Conservative MP and Minister for Civil Society, and Institute of Fundraising chief executive Peter Lewis, a Labour Party member since the age of 16, have in common?
Both men have been at the centre of a media and political storm over fundraising over the past year and have been centrally involved in the reconfiguration of the sector’s self-regulatory structure. But their points of view on the subject have often been very different.
Tuesday morning’s sessions offer a chance to compare and contrast their approaches. Wilson, the MP for Reading East who has been charities minister since September 2014, will deliver Fundraising Week’s opening keynote speech in which the regulatory changes and the reasons behind them are likely to be a key theme.
And Lewis (pictured below), who has led the professional body for fundraisers since 2011, will be speaking straight after Wilson in a session on the fundraising sector’s view of those regulatory changes. He is planning to talk about what has happened since May last year, the current state of play, and expectations for the future.
One of his themes will be what will have to happen to balance the push to rebuild public confidence in fundraising with the needs of charities to continue to raise the funds they need for their beneficiaries, and the risks involved in getting that balancing process right.
Wilson and other members of the government have been highly critical of fundraisers since the negative media reports about the death of Olive Cooke last summer, which was followed by undercover newspaper investigations revealing poor practice by some telephone fundraising agencies working for charities.
Wilson commissioned a review of fundraising regulation from Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and then accepted all its recommendations, including the abolition of the Fundraising Standards Board and its replacement by the new Fundraising Regulator, now being set up under the interim chairmanship of Lord Grade.
These changes mean that the Institute of Fundraising will lose the role it has hitherto played in the self-regulatory system, which is to set the Code of Fundraising Practice against which complaints are judged. The code will be transferred to the new regulator. Lewis has lobbied for strong representation by fundraisers on the committee that will set the code, and has said the institute will refocus its energies on championing good practice.