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Intelligent Giving to the rescue? Oh pur-lease!

Howard Lake | 25 January 2008 | Blogs

I’ve been a quiet for a while what with moving house, Christmas and the Norovirus. But I have been planning a few comment pieces, which will be coming onstream over the next couple of weeks on Howards’ spanking new site.
However I couldn’t help but do my ‘outraged of Anerley’ (when my new flat is) act and immediately put fingers to keypad when I read the latest blog on the Intelligent Giving website.
Entitled ‘Why we are a force for good’ – protesting too much? – this lists seven reasons why Intelligent Giving is the best thing that has ever happened to fundraisers.
I could take issue with just about every one. But there is one in particular that’s had me alternating between a state of such utter outrage that I had to get up, kick the litter bin over and go make myself a cup of tea to calm down (so British!), and one of secret admiration for the sheer self-confidence and arrogance of not only making such a claim but probably believing it as well.
This is IG’s reason number 2 justifying why they are a force for good.
“We have encouraged charities to take their donors seriously. Before we started launching the occasional salvo into the world of charity fundraising, many professional fundraisers took their donors’ wishes with a pinch of salt.”
(There’s more and as I’d hate to be accused of presenting a selective argument, you can see all of it at www.intelligentgiving.com/the_buzz/the_blog )
Come off it guys. Do you really, seriously believe that until you came along charities didn’t pay any attention to the wishes of their donors, who were all clamouring for engagement with their chosen charities but were being downtrodden and abused like some Victorian underclass, until Intelligent Giving came riding over the horizon and said: “No fundraisers, you do your donors wrong by not listening to their wishes.”
And then all of a sudden, all these fundraisers thought: “Oh yeah, we never thought of that. If we engage with our donors they might give us more money over a longer period of time. Thank you Intellligent Giving. Without you to point that out to us we might never have thought of it and yet now you have it seems so simple and obvious. We will change our evil ways henceforth.”
Do you actually know anything about what fundraisers do – I mean what they do to raise money? Have you heard of Relationship Fundraising (I didn’t ask if you’d read it because I’d take it for granted that you haven’t)? Do you realise how much time fundraisers spend debating donor care and stewardship? Are you aware of how many focus groups charities run to find out just what their donors think about them?
I’ve got a suggestion for you. You are always lecturing fundraisers about how they should engage with you. Well why don’t you meet us halfway and engage with the fundraising sector. Instead of spending just a couple of hours at the Institute of Fundraising conference (as you did last year) – time spent at the awards ceremony rather than the conference itself – this year why don’t you both attend the conference as full delegates, go to the sessions and get yourselves at least a working knowledge of how fundraising operates?
Then perhaps you’d be aware of just how ingrained the attitudes you say you want to foster already are in fundraisers’ thinking. Perhaps that would stop you arriving at the laughable conclusion that it’s all down to you.