Third Sector at Large: Can Gillian Taylforth persuade cold donors?

Plus: a sense of deja vu, tough talk from the regulator and a result for Changing Faces

Gillian Taylforth: good for warming up cold responders
Gillian Taylforth: good for warming up cold responders

When you've been around as long as Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations since 1994, there can be a sense of deja vu. Third Sector reported him in 2002 warning fundraisers – five years before the Fundraising Standards Board was born – that they should "act quickly to improve management practices and fully develop a self-regulatory framework". He suggested a code of practice set by a committee of which "the chair and a majority of the members would be drawn from outside the charity world". If that's still his view, then the current set-up, where the code is fixed by an Institute of Fundraising committee that is being restructured but will still have a majority of fundraisers, might not be approved by the review of self-regulation Etherington is currently conducting. We're all agog.

The Charity Commission tends to take a restrictive line on requests under the Freedom of Information Act. So lawyers in the Albert Hall case must have been surprised when they elicited some correspondence between the commission and the hall about its governance: the exchanges show the commission talking tough and the hall prevaricating. But an identical request three months later yielded the familiar refusal on the familiar grounds of "likely to prejudice the exercise of our functions". Presumably things were hotting up a bit.

A feather in the cap of Changing Faces, which complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about a photo gallery on the Daily Express website called "39 of the world's worst mugshots". Among those pilloried was Victoria Wright, a Changing Faces champion, who alerted the charity. The Express took the page down and at IPSO's behest has said "the article was in poor taste and we apologise for any offence it may have caused". Result.

A recent Third Sector story about a picture of Gillian Taylforth on fundraising materials failing to attract cold donors attracted some mirth on Twitter. Perhaps this was because the former EastEnders actress is still remembered for losing a libel case 20 years ago that involved her in what The Sun called a "sex romp" in a Range Rover. But the research, by the Behavioural Insights Team, was called into question by a former employee at Marie Curie, which ran one of the experiments for the report, who said the opposite had been true. "Using Gillian saw an uplift for the cold responders, not for the warm," she said.

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