Posts Tagged: fundraising

Charities should make it clearer that chuggers are getting paid

The Newsnight programme about chugging last week found nothing whatsoever to surprise anyone in the charity sector.

All of it was pretty common knowledge, easy to turn up, much as we might expect. But it did raise a valid point: the general public don’t like chuggers much.

Mick Aldridge, chief executive of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, told the programme it was “extraordinary” that some donors didn’t realise some of their money was being spent paying face-to-face fundraisers.

To check how aware donors are, I carried out a totally unscientific survey of my friends and family – all regular donors, all well-educated professionals. None of them realised they’d been signed up by agency staff; none had guessed their signature might be worth more than £100 to these staff.

Most did understand that charities needed to spend money on fundraising staff, and thought 25p or 30p of each pound was a pretty reasonable ratio. But they also said that, for reasons that go beyond the cost, they deeply disliked chuggers.

One described them as “intrusive and annoying”, another as “unpleasant and aggressive”. A third said that Moorgate in London was so full of chuggers that being there was like running a gauntlet of gladiators.

For a long time now, charities have looked on as fundraising agencies engaged with the public on their behalf. But the sector is storing up trouble for tomorrow.

It’s undeniable that chuggers, in the medium-term, raise cash. But in the process they risk playing fast and loose not just with the reputation of the charities they represent but also with that of the whole sector. Getting chugged can be a deeply unpleasant experience and each time it happens it lowers the public’s liking for the whole sector a little.

In my view, it’s time to recognise that in some places, fundraising tactics have gone too far. They need to be reined in a little.

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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.

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If we all gave one per cent of income, the sky would be the limit

Francis Davis, a policy adviser on the big society, has published a paper called The Diamond Dividend in which he estimates that £4bn more could be raised for charity if people gave one per cent of their income.

Only £4bn? He is no doubt wise to be restrained in his estimates, but a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on a recent survey suggests the sum could be a great deal more.

At the end of last year, the survey by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations indicated that 27 million adults gave an average of £31 in the year 2008-9.

If, for the sake of argument, each of those donors earned £20,000 and gave one per cent, their gifts would total £200 rather than £30 – a six-fold increase that would take total individual donations from £10bn to £60bn. The latter figure is getting on for twice the total income of the sector in recent years.

Back to the real world: when you remember what’s coming in the emergency Budget, and the likely effect on people’s pockets, there’s every chance giving will slip rather than climb in the coming months.

But you never know. Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, told Third Sector before the election that he was going to give one per cent this year. Davis wants to Queen to urge everyone to do the same – a sort of ‘one gives one per cent’ campaign.

Let’s not get carried away. For the next year or two, the sector will do well to continue to receive the current level of individual giving. Whoever finds the key to a significant increase will be a good candidate for the Nobel prize.

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