Defining the role of a fundraising watchdog

The new Fundraising Standards Board (FSB) described in your charities feature (MW July 27) is an excellent initiative that should help to build public trust in charities.

However, let’s be realistic about what the FSB can deliver. A fundraising standards body can’t tell charities how to spend their money – so it won’t answer ActionAid’s criticism that aid is sometimes inappropriate. And I can’t see how it could tell a charity how much to spend on rebranding or advertising – any more than the ASA could tell a company how big its advertising budget should be.

What the FSB can do is help ensure fundraising is honest, that donors’ wishes and preferences are observed, and that fundraising tactics that most reasonable people would consider outrageously guilt-inducing are scrutinised and challenged.

This last point is the most interesting, because it is subjective. Just because you personally object to “chugging” or receiving direct mail packs containing sticky address labels, it doesn’t mean that everyone else will agree with you. Watch out for some interesting test cases coming this autumn.

David Burrows

Head of fundraising

TDA

Gloucester

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