Peter Lewis speaks to Jenny Ramage about the Institute of Fundraising’s plans, innovation in the third sector and the executive pay debate
What brought you to the third sector?
I’m a lawyer by background; I spent four and a half years working for one of the top city law firms, and then I saw the light and decided wanted to do spend my life doing something that was more in accordance with my values. I believe in creating greater social justice and that’s why I’m working in this sector.
The institute has aspirations to achieve chartered status in the next five years. How will this help fundraising to develop?
There is certainly an aspiration there, and in the next financial year we’re going to be looking at exactly what that will mean for the institute. They key thing is that it will give fundraisers the professional credibility that other professionals have. The institute now provides a full qualifications framework, and the natural next step is to gain the recognition of having chartered status and all that means for the very professional expert fundraisers who are our members.
How is the institute relevant for small and new charities and lone fundraisers?
I think it’s incredibly valuable. One of the best programmes we run specifically targets small charities of under £1m. There is a dedicated section on our website which has all kinds of useful stuff, including five-minute practical videos for small charities. Through this programme, in the last three years we’ve reached over 3,000 people who work for small charities.
What will be the focus of this year’s convention and are there any hot topics you think will be discussed?
The theme this year is Proud to be a Fundraiser, and linked to that, Proud to be an IoF Member. There seems to be a lot of interest at the moment around how you can develop your fundraising career and your wider skills, so I think that will be a strong focus this year.
How do you think the charity sector compares with the private sector when it comes to innovating?
I think we are fantastic at innovating, and we are widely acknowledged for it - the world looks to the charity sector to find solutions to social problems. We’re better connected at local community level, and are often pushed with fewer resources to come up with those innovative solutions. Sometimes of course we innovate in partnership with the private sector world, so it’s not totally separate and linear. In fact some of the greatest innovations come from when the charity, private and public sectors all work together.
Do you think charities should do more to address concerns that too much is spent on executive pay?
There is a drive towards transparency, and I do think charities should be able to better explain how and why they do things. But I don’t think that the details of how a charity achieves its impact should necessarily be the upfront message to get more people to support them. Supporters get emotionally connected to the impact, rather than the details of ‘how’.
What are your interest outside of the third sector?
I like film. 12 Years A Slave was fantastic and it had me in tears in the end. I go to quite a few art exhibitions. I’m interested in politics, I like to play tennis and I ski - I’ve just been to the Alps with my two boys who are 12 and eight, and got very depressed that they can ski better than I can! I also rant about cycling quite a lot.