Any charity bosses hoping for a lighter touch from Lord Michael Grade’s successor as chair of the Fundraising Regulator could be in for a shock after new boss Lord Harris of Haringey vowed to go in with both barrels against the sector if necessary.
Grade, who stepped down in January after three years at the helm, incensed many in the sector with a flood of media gaffes, triggering accusations that he was “an embarrassment”.
From the outset, critics questioned his suitability for the role with claims he was just “a TV luvvie”. He was then slammed for describing fundraising charities and fundraisers as “laggards” and “rogues and cowboys”. Meanwhile, he also made major gaffes when promoting the launch of the Fundraising Preference Service, and even triggered the launch of an online petition calling for him to resign.
However, while Lord Harris, who succeeded Grade earlier this year, has insisted he will have a different style of leadership, he maintained he will not be a soft touch.
In an interview with Third Sector, the Labour peer said: “I suspect I’ll be coming to this from a different perspective, but I could say the same sort of thing.”
He was particularly scathing about organisations which have refused to cough up for the charity levy; charities which spend more than £100,000 a year on fundraising are asked to pay a voluntary levy of between £150 and £15,000 a year to fund the regulator.
“I suspect I will use a colourful turn of phrase to describe them, but a different turn of phrase from Lord Grade,” Harris said, adding that there was an arrogance to the charities which had refused to pay because it suggested they believed their work was perfect.
He added: “I haven’t come with a series of agendas, but what I’ve come with is an understanding of the need to respond to an ever-changing environment. I’m not somebody who’s just interested in making sure something ticks over and stays the same – because it can’t.”
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