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Australian media picks up on agency offer to pay return flights for British street fundraisers

Howard Lake | 25 June 2014 | News

A face-to-face fundraising agency working in Australia and New Zealand has defended its practice of paying return flights to experienced British fundraisers as the Australian media renews interest in street fundraising.
Cornucopia offers to pay up to AUS$1,500 (£830) return air fare for fundraisers, who must commit to work for six months and recruit an average of three “good quality, ongoing regular supporters”. However, the offer is only open to people who have made plans to travel to Australia or those already in the country.
Speaking exclusively to UK Fundraising, Cornucopia’s sales manager Lauren James said the agency had regularly employed ‘backpackers’ and overseas travellers as fundraisers since the early 2000’s, most of whom had worked as street fundraisers in the UK.
“For experienced face to face fundraisers, regardless of where in the world they’ve travelled from, Cornucopia offers the chance to work with a charity focused agency offering great opportunities,” James said.
“We are heavily involved in recruiting Australians to become F2F fundraisers; however, we have found that the job has been particularly suitable for experienced fundraisers from the UK, Ireland and Canada who are at a stage in their lives where the nomadic lifestyle appeals.”
James said many of the early Cornucopia employees, some of whom were sponsored by the agency, now worked in leading fundraising positions in Australian charities and in some cases had set up their own F2F agencies.
Although Cornucopia say the ‘free flight’ promotion is just one of “many recruitment opportunities it offers” and has been in place for the past nine months, the story has only recently been jumped upon by the Australian media, even making the Australian section of the Daily Mail’s website.

F2F acts as ‘lightning rod’ in Australian media

Paul Tavatgis of Whipbird Consulting – who is working with the Fundraising Institute of Australia to co-ordinate a sectoral response to the media’s interest in F2F – told UK Fundraising there had been a recent in increase in media attention on fundraising.
[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]Recent stories focusing on ‘free flights’ have been picked up with more interest than usual by the Australian media[/quote]
“Any issue relating to charity usually seems to refocus on fundraising, and the very public nature of F2F means that it often acts as a ‘lightning conductor’ for this attention. As a result we have seen a lot more stories about F2F in the last twelve months than previously.
“Recent stories focusing on ‘free flights’ have been picked up with more interest than usual by the Australian media. This has come as a bit of a surprise, given that the subject matter on the face of it, is not really that controversial. It is perhaps another way of getting the “Did you realise these people are paid!” angle into a new story.”
Tavatgis said the issues in Australia were similar to those that the UK F2F sector has had to deal with charities reticent to defend F2F in public. “Until we develop a more coherent, sector-wide strategy for F2F as a whole, not just for media response, it will be very difficult to respond effectively to these stories, which now seem to appear on a regular basis,” he said.
“Our challenge is to learn from our colleagues in the UK and from New Zealand, and develop a structure that will support the long-term credibility and sustainability of F2F in Australia.”


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