Monday, 18 May 2015

The Dilemma of Fundraising

The tragic story of Olivia Cooke has reopened the debate on charity fundraising. Many members of our sector have been talking about their own fundraising practice in response.

What we should do now is not apportion blame, but recognise this as the moment to take a hard look at our work, and particularly our fundraising.

Libby Purves made a good point in her Times column today:  "the nation's decent and reasonable rage at the case of Olive Cooke should be a shot across the bows of all fundraisers". Of course, charities need to raise funds. But the way we do this must be in line with our mission and purpose to do good.

ACEVO made this case in our recent report Good with Money. We argued that Chief Executives should be conscious of their organisation’s investment policy, and this policy should be embedded in the charity’s identity. Charities – and their CEOs – should be proactively transparent about these policies.

We can extend that approach to fundraising. We as CEOs need to be clear that where we have fundraising activities they are done to the highest standards.

With significant further cuts in public spending to come and a real strain on charity resources against rising demand charities do need to rely increasingly on the generosity of the public. We need to be sure that we do not damage our reputations through fundraising. And that any fundraising organisations who work on our behalf also adhere to best practice.

I was chatting to the manager of my favourite Helen and Douglas Hospice shop in Chipping Norton on Saturday and we were discussing this dilemma. Balancing the need to raise funds to support brilliant work but not hassling people to the point where they are turned off by the pressure of the fundraising effort.

Fundraising is important. Indeed it’s vital to the work we do: we need our fundraising community. But we need to make sure we’re doing it well – with the right purpose and methods. We need strong leadership in this area.  

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