Liberal Democrat MP and former charity fundraiser Martin Horwood has urged professional fundraisers to show more support for face-to-face (F2F) fundraising.
“I want to see more fundraising directors supporting face-to-face in public and not just through the pages of the charity sector press,” he said.
Horwood, MP for Cheltenham since 2005, was speaking at a reception at the Houses of Parliament to mark the fifth anniversary of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), the self-regulatory body for F2F fundraising.
The former fundraiser for Oxfam and the Alzheimer’s Society said: “The money raised through F2F fundraising has helped to lift people out of poverty and helped them to understand their rights and to challenge those keeping them in poverty.
“If the thrust to regulate F2F out of existence had succeeded, the problem would not have been that just a few agencies lost their contracts and put some people out of work, it would have been that people living in poverty and people suffering problems and disadvantages all around the world would have suffered”.
He endorsed the work of the PFRA, adding that he has tried to explain and build understanding of face-to-face fundraising in Parliament through his work on the Charities Act.
He commented that opposition to F2F as a fundraising method often came from “people who think they know how it works or how much it costs but actually don’t know a lot about it at all”.
He pointed out that MPs should recognise and be familiar with the value of face-to-face fundraising. “If some MPs question whether face-to-face contact on the street is the best way for charities to engage donors”, he advised, “ask them how they engage with voters. Yes, they do it by direct mail and by telemarketing, but they will tell you that the best way to get through to voters is to get out on to the street and talk to them directly – we call it canvassing.”