Our Christmas catalogue didn't work, says Save the Children

Venture did not make any money last year, charity tells Institute of Fundraising Scotland conference

Save the Children did not make any profit on its Christmas catalogue last year and has significantly reduced the scale of this year's catalogue as a result, the charity's fundraising director has admitted.

In a session at the Institute of Fundraising Scotland's annual conference in Glasgow yesterday, Tanya Steele said the charity made no profit from its Christmas 2008 catalogue and was left with excess stock.

She said the catalogue did not have the right product range. "Commercially, I couldn't justify it any more, so I cut it right back," she said.

In response to the comment, a delegate at the session asked whether any charity made money from its Christmas catalogue, and some admitted they did not. The delegate said it was very difficult to raise funds in this way.

During the session, Steele said Save the Children was focusing more on raising unrestricted funds than it had in the past, even though it was more expensive to fundraise in this way. "Unrestricted funds are precious because they allow us to retain our independence," she said.

Since it was established, Steele said, Save the Children had become "a British institution like Marks & Spencer".

She said this had made it difficult to convey a sense of urgency and that in order to change this the charity had launched an emotional TV advert asking for £3 a month, which was controversial among staff but had succeeded in repositioning the charity.


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