Acevo is struggling to put the Impact Coalition on a sustainable financial footing and is planning to review its patronage of the project.
The Impact Coalition, which stands for Improving Accountability, Clarity and Transparency, moved into Acevo from the Institute of Fundraising in the middle of 2009. At the time, the Institute had decided that it had already devoted enough funds to Impact - £100,000 over two years - and did not want to contribute much more. Shortly afterward other sector bodies stepped in to fill the funding gap - Charities Aid Foundation gave £15,000 and the Charity Finance Directors’ Group and Public Fundraising Regulatory Association each provided £5,000.
But since those grants expired last summer, Acevo has been left to foot the bill for the Coalition’s work. Although about 380 charities have signed up to the Impact principles, it is not a membership body and does not charge any fees.
When it moved into Acevo, sector leaders agreed that the chief executives' organisation was the more logical home for the Coalition’s work, as improving charities’ commitment to transparency and accountability needs to be led from the very top.
But Acevo chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb has admitted to Civil Society that it is under review because of the difficulty in funding it: “We need to think about how we take it forward because it has never been properly funded. We will be reviewing it.”
He added that he hoped a solution could be found to move it to a sustainable footing because “it is a fairly core part of what we do”.
“It’s an important piece of work actually, given the issues around accountability that certain MPs have raised, it is something we need to be on top of. We took it over because we want to push it forward but we need to find ways of making it sustainable.”
'Chicken and egg situation'
CFDG said its £5,000 grant to the organisation was always intended to be a one-off. PFRA chief executive Mick Aldridge said his board was broadly in favour of continuing to support Impact but had found itself in “something of a chicken and egg situation”:
“We’ve said we don’t want to give more money without seeing some concrete outcomes, and they’ve said they are finding it hard to generate concrete outcomes without more funding.”
Aldridge said he still believed it was an important project with a lot of potential “but we don’t want to be the only people co-funding it”.
Since being under the auspices of Acevo, Impact has published its Transparency Manifesto and last June it announced that it had instigated talks with the PFRA about creating a ‘rapid response unit’ dedicated to combating negative press coverage about charities and fundraising. Aldridge said this project was “still on the cards” provided Impact could secure its future.
The Impact Coalition has planned three member seminars for the year ahead - 'Building stakeholder trust and confidence' in April; ' Hallmarks of an accountable charity' in July and 'Leadership and accountability' in October.