Louise Richards calls on fundraisers to be more proactive in the self-regulation of the sector
You are probably used to the Institute talking shop and giving you the latest best practice updates which affect all of us. However, this month I thought it would be a good idea to take a step back and think about why we seek to promote the Codes of Fundraising Practice in the first place, some of the challenges we face in doing so, and how each and every fundraiser could and should be doing more to get actively involved in helping to raise standards in our profession.
We always seek opportunities to talk about the standards the codes represent and fully involve members and other fundraisers in their development. After all, one of the defining characteristics of the IoF is our ownership of the codes, which you may well have often heard us say are the backbone of self-regulation. But this is by no means an easy task.
With stiff competition for the national news agenda and certain national titles weighted towards writing about sensational fundraising stories, or not covering the subject at all, it is hard to proactively generate media coverage specifically about our standards. We do see more success in trade publications like The Fundraiser, but there is no denying that the codes are broadly seen by the outside world as a niche and technical topic.
Call to action
We are trying hard to shift this perception as good, ethical fundraising of the sort upheld by the codes matters to everyone – charity donors and fundraisers alike. And in order to do this we need your help. We need fundraisers to be able to help put our standards in context and to explain how best practice affects fundraising on the ground. We need you to add the context and colour to our standards to show exactly the difference they make to UK fundraising.
So before you flick through the rest of the magazine, under the assumption that it’s our responsibility to review and update the codes, and there is little that you can or should do, think again. The codes belong to all of us, and without the input of fundraisers we really have practically nothing to mark the sector’s standards against. We’d all do well to remember this and invest more into code development.
To get you thinking about the opportunities that are out there to contribute to this vital part of fundraising practice – which would also look impressive on your CV to any fundraising employer – here are three ideas, straight off. You could enter our codes competition, where we are asking for fundraisers to describe a scenario in which one of our codes really came into its own, helping you to manage a tricky fundraising situation. You could consider applying to become a member of our Standards Committee, which oversees code development. Or, you could demonstrate your proactivity in a slightly different way, by setting up a codes compliance committee within your own charity.
All fundraisers have a role to play in making sure self-regulation works for our sector. We don’t want to face a situation where Government steps in and regulates our activity, which could increase the red tape around many fundraising initiatives. This would mean fundraisers were not setting their own rules around the way in which we operate, and giving levels could suffer as a result. Now is your opportunity to stand up and be counted.
About the author Louise Richards is director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising.
This article first appeared in The Fundraiser, Issue 6, June 2011