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Institute defends 'badly written' fundraisers guide

Institute defends 'badly written' fundraisers guide
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Institute defends 'badly written' fundraisers guide1

Fundraising | Celina Ribeiro | 10 May 2012

The Institute of Fundraising has defended a guide it produced, partly funded by the Office of Civil Society, after it was reviewed as badly written and not useful.

In a blog titled ‘Don’t waste your time with Managing Fundraisers on the NCVO website, Richard Piper, previously head of strategy at the organisation but now chief executive of Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children’s Charity, was scathing about the Institute of Fundraising publication which aims to provide advice on how to manage fundraising staff.

Piper told readers they “shouldn’t bother” reading the Managing Fundraisers guide, which he criticised as “badly written” and not useful.  He wrote: “It completely fails to address misunderstandings about fundraising. In fact, it says almost nothing about the specific of managing fundraisers.”

A tête-à-tête on Twitter ensued, with the Institute’s director of learning Paul Marvell tweeting: “Your time better spent reading our guide than this pointless rant!”

Marvell also noted that the guide had been downloaded more than 660 times by readers. Piper vowed to blog again on the subject if and when the Institute produced feedback from members and readers that the guide is useful.

“It’s a good piece of work,” Marvell told civilsociety.co.uk. “I think [the blog post] is an unnecessary bit of criticism.”

Marvell said the guide was produced in response to repeated requests for advice on the subject by members, and is concerned Piper’s post might deter people from accessing the report. “There is some generic good practice in the guide, but we’ve also given some examples from fundraising,” he said. “It does what it says on the tin.

“It’s not massive, it’s just something that will hopefully help charities.”

Marvell said that the Institute will be soliciting feedback from members on the usefulness of the report as a matter of course, and that he would look forward to Piper blogging again on the subject. The OCS funding, he said, essentially only covered the design costs of the guide as the remainder was done in-house.

“I’m prepared to eat my words if there’s a groundswell of opinion that the guide isn’t doing what it should do,” said Marvell. 

Susan Robinson FInstF
10 May 2012

As one of the IoF’s Trainers who has been involved in developing and running the OCS-funded programme for small charities, I am deeply disappointed to see Richard Piper’s comments above. The Toolkit is aimed at small voluntary organisations who are taking their first steps towards employing a fundraiser – many of the organisations participating in the training sessions have no paid staff at all, never mind any experience of the very specific challenges of managing fundraisers. Many of the individuals attending the sessions pay their own fees, and don’t have the money to access the wide variety of publications and materials available to better-resourced organisations. The IoF hasn’t tried to substitute for the advice and guidance given by local CVSs and support bodies, but rather has tried to build on this to support employers starting out….. Surely this is a time when larger, better-funded organisations should come together to help smaller groupsin this way!

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