Children's Society hits the road

Senior managers at the Children's Society are travelling round the country meeting key supporters as part of an effort to keep local campaigners closely involved in its work.

The roadshows have been successfully piloted around the north of England and the charity now plans to roll out the initiative in other areas of the country.

Stephen Blunden, director of fundraising at the Children's Society, said the roadshows were aimed at people over 50 who have been supporting the charity for many years. "These people feel they have a serious stake in the organisation, it's their society. Many charities take supporters like this for granted but they are very important. They are totally dedicated to the cause and if they are treated properly we hope they will do even more for the organisation," he said.

At the events, the management team gives presentations about the children's charity's direction and holds an open questions and answers session.

Earlier this year, the Children's Society pulled out of projects in Wales and some in England after experiencing financial difficulties.

Blunden said that the roadshow was a good way of addressing supporters' concerns, but added that "most have a good understanding of the pressures we have faced".

The initiative aims to give supporters a clear understanding of the organisation's financial position which Blunden said had greatly improved over the past 18 months with a 26 per cent increase in net voluntary income.

The society also wants to emphasise to supporters the direction its work takes, supporting the most marginalised children. "The sector's role is to innovate not just run public services," said Blunden.

It also hopes to improve the way it communicates the work it does and help people become directly involved in the decision-making process at the organisation.

Blunden said he had been surprised by some of the views expressed by supporters. Despite media coverage implying the contrary, most have said they fully approve of face-to-face and other new, innovative fundraising techniques and want to become involved themselves.

The charity has found that most people attending the pilot schemes have supported the organisation for more than 20 years and they are mainly interested in local projects or work specific to their regions.

The society is also running Keymail, an email information service for key supporters which gives them access to previously privileged information such as the society's press releases.

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