IoF chair: I'm sick of charity 'cowards' leaving fundraisers in the firing line

02 Jul 2013 News

Mark Astarita, chair of the Institute of Fundraising, last night issued an incendiary challenge to charity sector leaders to get behind fundraising rather than "watching the lions take chunks out of us".  

Mark Astarita, chair, Institute of Fundraising

Mark Astarita, chair of the Institute of Fundraising, last night issued an incendiary challenge to charity sector leaders to get behind fundraising rather than "watching the lions take chunks out of us".   

The British Red Cross fundraising director warned the audience at the Institute of Fundraising's National Awards in London last night that he would have a rant, and did not disappoint.

An audience that was otherwise chastised for murmuring fell either silent or erupted in applause as Astarita issued a call to arms against charity leaders who wash their hands of fundraising. The dining hall at the Hilton Metropole appeared both nervous and enthused by the moment of verbal catharsis.

"If you spend it, you should be bloody proud of those who raise it," he said.

In a speech which referenced gladiatorial battles, Astarita intimated that some charity leaders were hypocritical in their aversion to supporting the techniques and individuals which fund their work.

"I am getting pretty sick of the fact that it is the fundraisers of this country... who seem constantly in the firing line, and every time we rush out of the trenches defending our right to ask, every other charity leader happy to take the cash has run for the hills with their petticoats showing," he said. "Since when have they become such cowards?

"Too many of our leaders don't get it, don't care enough about it, don't shout about it and frankly see us as nothing more than a necessary evil."

Speaking at the opening of the National Awards as chair of the Institute, Astarita's sympathetic audience was rallied by his unequivocal charge on what some fundraisers privately complain is a lack of support and understanding of fundraising by charity chief executives, staff and boards.

While it is an ongoing complaint, the most notable instance of a lack of such support was in 2010, when astruggled to get any large charities on air to defend the technique.

Picking up on the , spearheaded by Dan Pallotta, Astarita asked: "Do we have to set up a Charity Defense Council as they have in the USA?"

Astarita argued that without wholesale leadership buy-in to fundraising, the level of giving - static for decades - will not shift, and this when charities are facing declining income from the state and public sector contracts. 

Read Astarita's speech in full here

Fundraising consultant Alan Clayton has struck a similar vein in an exlusive blog on civilsociety.co.uk today.  You can read it here.

 

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