Finally, a line is drawn in the sand, a little over two years since Olive Cooke died and the Daily Mail made charity fundraising famous in a summer of donor discontent.
This week the new regulator launched the fundraising preference service in response to those events, and at the UK Institute of Fundraising Convention, the Commission on Donor Experience published a seminal body of work, that at once should become essential reading and a reference library for everyone who has anything to do with engaging people with the express objective of asking them to donate.
I believe that this work will remain the cornerstone of best practice for many years to come. Its credibility is based on the combined experience and insight of fundraising practitioners, consultants and the voices of over 1,000 fundraisers, donors and others who have contributed countless voluntary hours to its creation. The rich seams of wisdom are present in every recommendation for change and in every one of the 250 case studies.
More bravery required
As good as it is that is not it! In my 25 years as a fundraiser there has never been more bravery required in our profession. We have to diversify channels and income streams and try new ventures and all of this means that yes, we will need to manage even more compliance.
We must strive for improvement because I think in all honesty that we in the UK will only have one more crack at self-regulation and we have to get it right. One bad experience, complaint to the ICO, letter to the editor reflects badly on us individually and collectively.
Do the right thing for our donors
But this isn’t just about complying.
Our much bigger more important task must be to challenge each other and to champion our donor experience and this guidance is a great place to start…
The Commission has done a remarkable job for two years but now the momentum must swing to us to do the right thing for our donors because it is the right thing to do.
This means the education of every fundraiser; it means scrutinising every communication, campaign and piece of collateral. Every donor is a jewel to be treasured, their loyalty is passionate but fragile, and their discontent is loud and shared and shared and shared…
It is time for us in the profession to come together to put our donors at the heart of our fundraising and maintain authenticity in doing that we can never sound jaded or lack authenticity.
This insight is not compulsory but it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for our donors, present and future and it is the right thing to do for future generations, those that will rely on our charities and the work they do. So I commend to you the CDE outputs published today.
We owe future generations of donors and beneficiaries this piece of work.
The full CDE documentation can be downloaded for free, now, at sofii.org.
Jayne George is Fundraising and Marketing Director – Guide Dogs.
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