Soap Box: Is fundraising being regulated by an enemy?

The Fundraising Regulator is important but it shouldn't make us feel at war, writes Valerie Morton

Valerie Morton
Valerie Morton

The focus of some fundraisers on maximising income for their causes has clearly resulted in inappropriate ways of working and a move away from traditional charity values. But recent developments have made me feel as if we are being regulated by an enemy.

Having a regulator for fundraising is fully justified. What hurts me is a narrative tone that makes me feel that fundraisers are at the bottom of the pile, that we have the wrong motives, that we are out to hoodwink the public whenever we can in the interests of bringing in money and that we are focused on the income we bring in, not the causes the income supports. After decades of encouraging people to see fundraising as the best career possible, I am now concerned that this reputation will be lost.

The Advertising Standards Authority uses the codes set by the Committee of Advertising Practice to adjudicate. The members are bodies that represent that industry and are deemed to have the knowledge and insight needed, despite what could be seen as a conflict of interest. But it was felt that an independent regulator was required to set standards for fundraising.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority, whose board of 15 includes seven solicitors, has an inclusive and supportive tone and a real feel that it is there for both solicitors and the public. Compare that with only three specific fundraisers on the board of nine at the Fundraising Regulator.

The Fundraising Regulator has a vital role to play, but I want to be able to feel it is my regulator - a regulator for fundraisers - not an organisation that is in conflict with the profession I hold so dear to my heart.

Valerie Morton is a fundraiser and consultant

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