The Commission on the Donor Experience has announced 25 projects that fundraisers across the UK are working on to help transform the culture of fundraising in the UK.
The extensive work is part of the sector-wide response to the media, political and public criticisms of some fundraising methods by some charities in 2015. Fundraisers are invited to take part in the projects to help ensure the widest range of experience and thought.
The projects focus on all of the key issues raised, including vulnerability, use of language and emotion, leadership, trustee and CEO roles, how to communicate with donors, and the right people as fundraisers. The work is one of the largest re-evaluations of professional fundraising in the UK to date.
The projects have been developed following months of extensive consultation with donors and fundraisers around the country.
Four focus areas
The projects are grouped under four main areas:
- the donor’s view
- communicating the experience
- the right people
- how it works
They cover fundraising techniques and channels, but with an emphasis on how these are experienced by donors. They cover current, high priority issues such as vulnerable donors, but also broader issues such as the use and misuse of emotions in fundraising, use of language, how donors are contacted and considered. Overall, the aim is how to enrich the giving experience for donors.
The Commission on the Donor Experience is an independent initiative working to improve the experience of charity donors in the UK. Set up in October 2015, it does not represent charities or any other bodies associated with charities, but does of course welcome support and involvement from donors, charities, sector suppliers and charity sector bodies.
Sir Martyn Lewis, chair of the Commission, said:
“Taken together, the collective analysis and outputs from all these projects will change forever the donor experience and the way that fundraising is done in Britain. They will ensure that rather than fundraisers’ targets, what’s best for the donor will from now be securely at the heart of fundraising strategies.”
Stephen Dunmore, Chief Executive of the new Fundraising Regulator also welcomed the work of the Commission, saying that he looked forward to working closely with it.
Asheem Singh, Chief Executive (interim), Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) welcomed the work of the Commission, describing it as “critical”:
“The most important people associated with charities are our beneficiaries. But none of the millions of people and good causes who benefit would do so without the commitment of donors. Their trust in the use to which their contributions are put and the value of that activity are intrinsic and existential to their relationship with the many tens of thousands of organisations to whom they give their money.”
22 Commission project areas
There are 22 project areas plus three that cut across the Commission’s work:
- the difference between small charities and large charities;
- illustrative case histories of successful donor-centred fundraising
- resources on donor-centred fundraising.
The projects are all run by volunteers. Each one has one or more leaders, each of who is working closely with a number of others volunteers. Over 660 people have already signed up to the Commission to help with these projects, but more are encouraged to do so.
1. The use and misuse of language, Dr Andrea Macrae from Oxford Brookes University.
2. Fundraising and vulnerability, Esther Jackson, group marketing and fundraising director, Age UK and Martin Sheehan, head of customer service and insight, Alzheimer’s Society.
3. Satisfaction and commitment, Roger Lawson, consultant, Roger Lawson Consulting.
4. Thank you and welcome, John Grain, director, John Grain Associates.
5. The supporter’s journey, Morag Fleming, consultant, Morag Fleming Consulting.
6. The use and misuse of emotion, Ken Burnett.
7. Companies, Jonathan Andrews, director, Remarkable Partnerships.
8. Trusts and foundations, Deanna Wolf, grants manager, Quarriers; chair of Trusts, Statutory and Foundations SIG, IOF Scotland.
9. Major Donors, Carlos Miranda, Founder & CEO I.G. Advisors.
10. Legacies, Stephen George, fundraising leadership coach and consultant.
11. Communication with individual donors, Gail Cookson, fundraising director, WPN Chameleon, Tracy Griffin Director of Fundraising, Shelter, Elaine Lee, MD, ReynoldsBusbyLee, Sam Butler, national fundraising manager, St John Ambulance.
12. Inspirational creativity, Georgia Bridgwood, head of marketing and supporter development, MQ transforming mental health.
13. Giving choices and managing preferences, Jackie Fowler, owner and Tim Connor, account director of Burnett Works.
14. Getting the right people as fundraisers, Helena Sharpstone and Caryn Skinner, directors, Sharpstone Skinner.
15. The role of trustee boards and senior managers, Colin Kemp, Colin Kemp Consulting.
16. A distinctive service culture, Joe Sutton, head of supporter care, Hope and Homes for Children.
17. Leadership, Rob Woods, Bright Spot Fundraising.
18. Supporters as advocates, Richard Turner, director, Richard Turner Fundraising.
19. Evidence of impact and effectiveness, Ben Russell, director of communications, Charities Aid Foundation.
20. Fundraising investment, David Ainsworth, editor, Civil Society News.
21. Working with suppliers, Wayne Murray, head of fundraising and brand, Refugee Action.
22. Media relations and the public face of charities, Tim Kitchin, director at Copper.
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive, Institute of Fundraising (IoF) welcomed the projects and what they would do for fundraising. He said:
“Excellent fundraising is about the connection between the donor and the cause. That’s why the Commission’s wide-ranging work on how we can put the donor first is so important. The IoF is delighted to be able to support the Commission’s work and look forward to sharing its insights with our members and the fundraising community, and to taking forward their legacy.”
Karl Wilding, Director of Public Policy, National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) said:
“Fundraisers have a vital role to play in ensuring that we not only meet the expectations of the public, but exceed them. I am pleased that fundraisers are working collectively to ensure that charities are listening to the public’s concerns and, more importantly, acting upon them.”
Rachel Hunnybun, commissioners and development director, Sweetpea Charity said of the projects:
“The breadth and depth of work being undertaken by the Commission shows that its output planned for the end of 2016 will be deep, wide-ranging, substantial and considered. For fundraisers this will be a great and highly useful resource. The output won’t be just a list of things that should be done, it will be really practical and useable guidance on how to implement what is best and right for donors, supported by illustrated examples of exemplary donor experiences in practice.”
- Read Giles Pegram’s blog post about the projects and why they offer a major opportunity to transform fundraising for the better.