Think before you ask for corporate donations, charities urged

By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector, 6 October 2009

Royal Mail

Royal Mail

Too many ignore funding priorities, says Kay Allen, the Royal Mail's CSR chief

The number of charities making ill-considered and unsophisticated requests for money from businesses has increased significantly in the past few months, according to the head of social action and inclusion at the Royal Mail group.

Speaking at a meeting hosted by the Charity Commission at the Labour Party conference last week, Kay Allen said too many charities had started sending generalised requests for funding without taking into account a firm's outlook and funding priorities.

Allen, responsible for the organisation's charity budget, later told Third Sector Royal Mail had published its social action strategy, and that for the next four years it would focus on unemployed 16 to 19-year-olds.

"But I have been receiving an increasing number of photocopied letters that are not even addressed to me," she said. "They just get a letter back saying 'no thank you"."

Organisations needed a reason to support a particular charity, such as a connection to its business, Allen said.

"Charities should research who they are writing to and they should make their pitch to fit the organisation's business plan," she said. "It's very disappointing that many don't do this."

Joe Saxton, co-founder of think tank nfpSynergy, commented: "A lot of smaller charities in particular think that asking for a small donation from a business is not very much to ask, so they don't put a lot of effort into tailoring their requests."

Caroline Howe, policy and codes of practice manager at the Institute of Fundraising, said charities should target the right organisations, particularly at a time when businesses were reviewing their expenditure.

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