Stephen Pidgeon: We must back the next chair of the IoF - big time

At this difficult time for fundraising, our columnist calls on fundraisers to get involved with the insititute

Stephen Pidgeon
Stephen Pidgeon

Several weeks ago, regulators and constrainers laid out their stall of implements to control fundraising. I use inflammatory language because I still think many of them see that as their role.

Part of me wants to go through the detail of what was published, to challenge and to put forward alternative solutions. But I'll not do that. I'll do what all fundraising colleagues will do: make the best of the new regime and continue to battle hard to raise the money needed for our causes - money that changes lives.

I'm interested in a development that could be highly significant for us fundraisers. The Institute of Fundraising is looking for a new chair, someone steeped in our craft who can speak on our behalf, drive exciting developments and inspire us again with a zeal for excellence. The past two years have been tough for us all and there have been many leaping to criticise the institute. Some have wanted a more robust defence of our work; others, clearer guidance on the way forward.

Certainly, there were times when leadership was lacking. But events were unprecedented, the scale and the searing quality of the encounters beyond all prediction.

And let us not forget, the chair of the institute is a voluntary post: all the trustees on the board and the members of the many committees, like the trustees of our own charities, are doing this work for nothing. Much of the carping came from people who were not even members of the institute. By all means disagree. We had a magnificent example of it at the AGM in July, when Professor Stephen Lee raised a serious and disputed point. But he argued his case from a position of knowledge and a commitment to the institute.

Every fundraiser in this country should be a member of the institute. If you don't like what our institute does or stands for, then get involved as a volunteer and do something about it. There are unlimited opportunities to do that. Stick your head above the parapet and work to change things for the better. Stop hanging on to the coat-tails of others who do that.

The people at the institute, including the volunteers, work their backsides off trying to drive our profession forwards. In the past year, they've taken on board the control and "mystery shopping" skills of the Public Fundraising Association. Sensible discussions involving the institute have led to the disappearance of the ill-functioning Fundraising Standards Board and its replacement with the Fundraising Regulator, which looks, mercifully, like it understands the value of fundraising.

Now a new chair has to be found, another volunteer. He or she has to be a senior member of our profession and, when they are elected by the board in July, we have to back them, big time. I offer my thanks to the outgoing chair: what a job he inherited! And with all my heart, I wish the new chair well.

Stephen Pidgeon is a consultant and a teacher

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