Self-regulation director begins recruitment drive

Jon Scourse, director of the new self-regulatory scheme for fundraising, has set himself the goal of persuading 1,000 charities to join the scheme in his first year.

The former fundraising director of Seafarers UK will share responsibility for the future success of the scheme with new chairman Colin Lloyd, a direct marketing veteran who supervised the establishment of self-regulatory schemes for both the direct marketing industry and the internet.

Although the pair officially take up their posts this month, the amount of preparation required to get the unit up and running means it is unlikely to launch to the public until October.

Scourse will begin talking to the sector about the scheme from this month and anticipates a period of intense activity to promote it on the conference circuit in the summer.

Although it will be housed in the Institute of Fundraising for its first year, the self-regulatory body - registered as a community interest company - will become independent and aims to have its own premises by January next year.

The scheme was supposed to launch in the autumn of 2005, but was delayed when Home Office and Scottish Executive funding of £840,625 failed to materialise until September.

The rest of the board is now being recruited. Its members will be drawn from the original steering group, consumer bodies, the Charity Law Association and crucially, the general public. Their presence is deemed necessary in order to represent the views of ordinary donors and provide a degree of independence that is widely considered by both supporters and critics to be key to the scheme's success.

Mick McAteer, principal policy adviser at Which?, said it had decided not to subject the charity sector to the same kind of scrutiny as it had others, but it would keep an eye on the scheme to monitor its independence.

Adrian Sargeant, professor of non-profit marketing at Bristol Business School and to date a vocal sceptic of the scheme, is concerned that the public might be alarmed by its launch and think it has been set up in response to a crisis.

"Far from bolstering public confidence, it could damage it, " he said.

"Now it is going ahead, the sector, myself included, has to make sure it does have a positive impact on public trust."

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