“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
A couple of things have happened recently that have made me uneasy. Firstly, I’ve been watching the fundraising community trying to deal with the fact that it has been ‘found out’. Turns out all charities aren’t wonderful, everyone who works in fundraising isn’t an angel and the media have cottoned on. The recent spat between Stephen Lee, a ‘big beast’ and Peter Lewis of the IoF is undignified and embarrassing for our sector. Article here.
There’s an underlying problem here. Seems like the rules are there – but they’re not going to be applied to the big guys. Too big to fail? This is hugely worrying. If the public cannot trust the UK’s flagship charities – or the regulator that’s supposed to be ensuring good practice – what chance has everyone else got?
Second thing worrying me – Fundraising Magazine’s ‘Top 50 Most Influential Fundraisers’ list came out a couple of weeks ago and I’m apparently no 40. But, my friend Tobin Aldrich (who I would rate as the best practicing fundraiser in the UK today) came out as no 46. So, I’m thrilled and flattered – but the list is a little random and there are loads of people with more ‘influence’ than I who aren’t represented here. What does come across though is the number of fundraisers in here who are part of the ‘London bubble’ (oh, and mostly white men too). I work across the whole of the UK and, honestly, very few of the charities we support are engaged with that. They’re focussed on their work, their communities. The big beasts in London just aren’t relevant.
Ultimately, the top 50 UK charities have a responsibility not just to themselves and their own work, but also to the sector as a whole. We all need to be trusted – and the rules must apply to all of us.