The year in fundraising: 2014

From the review of fundraising self-regulation to criticism of fundraising agencies and the success of nomakeupselfie and the ice bucket challenge, it's been a busy year

The ice bucket challenge
The ice bucket challenge

The way in which the Institute of Fundraising works with the other major fundraising bodies was a hot topic in 2014, as were society lotteries.

In January, Third Sector revealed that the IoF had drawn up confidential plans to merge its membership with that of the Fundraising Standards Board. It was estimated that combining the fees of the two bodies would bring in an extra £30,000 annually.

The FRSB said it had not been aware of the proposition. Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said the document was never more than a draft that was not taken forward for discussion at senior level: instead the IoF was focused on its joint work with the FRSB and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association on a review of fundraising self-regulation.

A summary of the report that emerged from this review, conducted by the professional services firm PwC, was released in July. It suggested that the PFRA could become a department or subsidiary of the IoF and that the three fundraising bodies should consider sharing back-office functions.

But Third Sector obtained a copy of the full report later that month, which revealed PwC’s view that the self-regulation of fundraising was being pulled in many directions and that the three bodies did not trust each other enough to be able to work in partnership effectively.

In April it emerged that there was a proposal for the Institute of Legacy Management to become part of the IoF. But some ILM members were strongly opposed to the idea, voting against a merger in a poll. The organisation’s chief executive and chair announced their resignations in June, and in November it announced that it would not continue talks about the merger "at this time".

July signalled the start of the reign of Richard Taylor, executive director of fundraising and supporter marketing at Cancer Research UK, as chair of the IoF, marking the end of the three-year tenure of Mark Astarita, director of fundraising at the British Red Cross.

Taylor said his biggest priority would be to ensure that the IoF Code of Fundraising Practice continued to demand the highest standards from fundraisers and maintain the public’s trust and confidence.

The PFRA announced a change of leadership in October, when Peter Hills-Jones, its head of policy and communications, was appointed to the chief executive’s role. He replaced Sally de la Bedoyere, who left in November to become chief executive of the animal charity the Blue Cross

A Channel 4 Dispatches programme made waves in August when it accused the fundraising agencies NTT Fundraising and Pell & Bales – working on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity and the RNIB respectively – of using questionable practices with vulnerable people.

Stephen Lee, a former director of the IoF, said the issues raised in the documentary – such as the way in which the agencies used solicitation statements – meant that the IoF and the FRSB should conduct a review into the organisations concerned.

The FRSB responded by holding meetings with the charities and agencies featured in the programme. The Cabinet Office said in September that it would review its guidelines on solicitation statements next year.

Viral fundraising through social media was a strong theme this year, with the stand-out examples being #nomakeupselfie and the ice bucket challenge. In March, Cancer Research UK received donations of more than £8m in just six days from the #nomakeupselfie trend, in which people tweeted pictures of themselves without make-up.

The ice bucket challenge, meanwhile, which involved people being doused by a bucket of icy water and challenging two or three friends to follow suit and/or make donations to charity, raised £3m for Macmillan Cancer Support by the end of August; the Motor Neurone Disease Association went on to raise another £7m and the ALS Association in the US received more than £73m.

Society lotteries were also in the news: the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched an inquiry into them in July, and the government itself began its long-awaited consultation on their regulation.

Both will examine a variety of issues, including whether the regulations around the amounts that society lotteries give to good causes should be changed.

Charities that were owed money from the suspended donations website CharityGiving found out that they would receive only about a third of what they were owed, after a High Court judge delivered his ruling in July on how the funds should be distributed.

The bank accounts of the Dove Trust, which owns CharityGiving, had been frozen by the Charity Commission in June 2013 and an interim manager appointed because of concerns about the charity’s trustworthiness, governance and financial management.

The commission asked the High Court in December 2013 to decide how to distribute the funds after it was reported by the Dove Trust’s interim manager, Pesh Framjee of the accountancy firm Crowe Clark Whitehill, that there was a shortfall between the funds held by the trust and the money owed to charities.

Charities began to receive some of what they were owed in December.

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