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Research improves fundraising effectiveness says IoF report

Research improves fundraising effectiveness says IoF report

The vast majority of fundraisers believe that helps them to be more effective, a report for the IoF has found.

The ’s Good Asking report looks at why charities research and process supporter information, and reveals that 90% of fundraisers believe that conducting research enables fundraisers to better communicate and tailor their work to the interests and priorities of donors. 88% also believe that conducting research reduces the levels of unwanted or irrelevant mail sent to people who do not have the capacity to give at a particular level or do not have a connection to the cause.

all of the charities surveyed have undertaken or commissioned prospect research (94.5%) while a similarly high number have undertaken or commissioned wealth screening (88%).

Almost all respondents also agree that:

  • Conducting research enables their charity to raise funds from individuals (92%)
  • Research allows them to raise funds in 
a cost-effective way (90%)
  • Research enables communications to be tailored to suit the interests and needs of individual supporters (90%),
  • Being able to tailor communications enhances the experience that is offered to donors (90%).

The report was conducted for the IoF by Dr Beth Breeze from the University of Kent, and surveyed more than 300 fundraisers to understand why they process and research information about their supporters, and what the benefits are for donors, charities and the wider public.

A representative survey of the UK population also found that 60% of those who prefer charities to tailor the communications they send them, think that charities should be able to use information that is publicly available, for example doing Google searches or drawing on newspaper articles, to tailor their approach to their supporters.

The report also shows that two-thirds of major donors believe that a ‘more professional approach’ by fundraisers has been a key factor in the development of philanthropy in the UK.

The survey was conducted online in February this year, with the results based on 347 responses, the majority of which came from fundraisers working or volunteering for major or large charities with annual income over £1 million.

Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, and author of the report, said:

“It is crystal clear that research has played a key role in successful and ethical fundraising for decades, and it is equally clear that preventing fundraisers from using publicly available information will hurt charitable beneficiaries the most.

“This report shows how research also benefits donors who want – and expect – to be treated respectfully as individuals and offered meaningful participation and involvement in the causes they so generously support.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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