Fundraising Task Force to Examine Sector Viability
3 March 2016 at 10:08 am
The Fundraising Institute of Australia has formed a high-level task force to ensure the long term viability of the fundraising sector, the peak body’s national conference in Melbourne has been told.
CEO of the FIA, Rob Edwards told the conference that in 2016 the peak body was advocating a more donor centric landscape and continuing to work towards building a sustainable sector.
“The importance of this has been well illustrated by the experience of our colleagues in the UK, who over the past several months have faced a backlash of epic proportions against aggressive fundraising techniques,” Edwards said.
“Now, we are not the same market as the UK, and fundraising activity in Australia is not at the same volumes experienced by donors and prospective donors in the UK, but the FIA board is conscious that we build and retain trust and confidence in the sector through the respectful, ethical engagement and care of donors and potential donors, particularly if fundraisers may be interacting with vulnerable people in the community.”
He told the conference in his opening address that the FIA had formed a high-level task force to address these issues, with representation from both large and small charities.
“At the same time we have a group of 20 members creating guidelines for fundraisers when dealing with vulnerable people,” Edwards told Pro Bono Australia News.
“We need to get the sector together to make sure that we have got plans not only to deal with any negative PR but to make sure that the sector itself understands the importance of being a bit more donor centric in their approach.
“A number of things will spin out of this [task force]. As a sector we haven’t really put together a cogent media strategy to handle these sorts of things and there is no one voice around theses issues and we want to make sure that we do that.
“We are going to spend some more time looking at FIA’s codes and standards of practice to make sure that they reflect contemporary fundraising practices.”
Edwards said another plank of this was engagement with the charity regulator the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).
“We are doing a fair amount of work in that space already and the ACNC is doing some terrific work in trying to reduce red tape for fundraising and certainly… while fundraising regulation can do one thing the really key to this is modifying behaviour of fundraising activities conducted by charities and you do that by coded practice that aren’t legislated that can change and reflect contemporary practice,” he said.
“The biggest challenge, if you put the UK experience to one side, and it’s something we need to be very much aware of, is to try to develop a more donor centric approach to fundraising activities and to put yourself in the donors shoes.
“I mean the reality is that there is an increasing number of charities all ramping up their fundraising activities for a donor pie that’s not actually growing that much. At the end of the day those that are regular donors or potential donors will be getting more communications and how you manage that situation. I think this is going to be crucial.”
Edwards said the FIA was working with the Department of Communications, the Privacy Commission and ADMA, the media authority looking at developing guidelines on how to approach vulnerable people .
“Our colleagues in the UK have done a similar thing and so we have a document out in the marketplace at the moment asking for feedback that might help us to go through that process as well and to provide guidance for charities,” he said.
“There is a huge challenge in that because you can’t make assumptions just because people get an age demographic for example, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are vulnerable they happen to be people who give. Even people who might suffer from some sort of affliction themselves may be very happy to donate so it’s a very very difficult thing to do.”
The FIA National Conference is taking place in Melbourne from 2 to 4 March with the theme of “Dive into Different Thinking”.