Proceed with caution on the Right to Ask

The Institute of Fundraising has been holding more meetings about a campaign it is planning which has been provisionally called Right to Ask although it has also been mooted that it could be called Right to Give.

It’s not surprising that the launch has been delayed from the original target of spring this year. It raises a lot of difficult questions that need to be carefully thought through.

If you asked your friends down the Dog and Duck if charities had a right to ask and the public had a right to give, they would look at you in bewilderment and say “of course they do – what’s the problem?”

But when you scratch the surface of this mooted campaign, you soon realise that this is mainly about the voluntary sector’s concern about no cold calling zones and the public view of face to face fundraising and telephone fundraising.

Back at the Dog and Duck, you’d get a different reaction if you asked people what they thought about those specific things. Not everyone likes fundraisers knocking on their door, stopping them in the street and ringing them up when they’ve got the kids in the bath.

The danger of some kind of general campaign is that will create a link in people’s mind between the bits of fundraising they don’t object to and the bits that many do.

Isn’t it better to work on specific difficult issues rather than try to make them acceptable by equating them with general principles that people don’t object to?