The recent attention given to fundraising has acted
as a wake up call for us to sort out the best possible standards for what we do
in asking for money from the public.
I have been spending time consulting my CEO members about
how we tackle the issues raised in parts of the media about fundraising
practices. ACEVO convened a particularly good breakfast
round table at the Charities Aid Foundation with senior CEOs which helped clarify the actions we
need to take. Of course not all my members do public fundraising, many do small
amounts, and some of our bigger best loved charities like the Red Cross, BHF,
Macmillan and cancer research charities
for example do a lot.
A general consensus has emerged that, while this is not a crisis, we must treat this
seriously. As David McCullough of RVS
commented , the age of deference is over and people/media are more happy to have a
go at institutions of all sorts. It is also clear that there has been no impact
in terms of giving and not many complaints so far. However there was a strong feeling
that we need to take this seriously, or we may risk damage to the sector's reputation. Ultimately this may result in the loss of self regulation; John Low pointed out there is provision in the Charity Act for Ministers to act
on this and it does not require further legislation.
In any case it is right we
take time to review what we do so as to ensure the highest possible standards
and rigorous ethical standards. David Bull of Unicef pointed out that we must put our beneficiaries first.
There are varying views
on what exactly should be done on fundraising. Some make the point
that less asking means less giving and for some major charities door to door/
chugging/ mailing and the like is a significant source of income. Lynda Thomas CEO of Macmillan cancer care said they do a great deal of
door to door fundraising but their teams are trained to handle requests for
advice from people on the door step who have concerns about cancer. Indeed it's a great opportunity to
tell people about the brilliant advice and support they offer and it generates significant requests for this. They provide help and support and sign post to important
advisory services. I know other charities like the British Heart Foundation
say the same.
On the other side, there are some
charities that work with the elderly have concerns over activities like door to
door fundraising. Age UK for example, are clear they will not use many forms of
fundraising because of concerns about vulnerable older people.
One thing is sure;
CEOs need to be on top of their fundraising and keeping an eye on how
they operate, and what they do. This is one of the pieces of advice ACEVO has
been giving to CEO members generally. Good time to check out what methods are
being used and how it operates, especially if using other agencies.
I've heard a
strong view that we must speak with one voice on this issue and so the umbrella
bodies must be united on this.
As a consequence ACEVO, NCVO,the Institute of fundraising , and finance directors are getting together to develop a guidance
note of advice for trustees and CEOs in fundraising charities. I'm sure the
sector will welcome such a display of unity on this issue and help us reassure
the civil society Minister and others we are serious about tightening up
It was good last week to see
Rob Wilson talking about the value of self regulation and he was right to be
saying we need to act. We have and we are determined to get this right.