Commission on the Donor Experience aims to raise £140k, says founder Giles Pegram

The fundraising consultant says it has already raised £25,000 from the fundraising agency Listen Fundraising and the software company Blackbaud

Giles Pegram
Giles Pegram

The Commission on the Donor Experience aims to raise £140,000 for its inquiry into how donors can be put at the centre of fundraising strategies, according to one of its founders.

Giles Pegram, a fundraising consultant and trustee of the Institute of Fundraising, told Third Sector that the commission had already raised £25,000 from the telephone fundraising agency Listen Fundraising and the software company Blackbaud, and was in the process of securing a further £10,000 from another sponsor.

He said the money would be used to recruit a director and a researcher or assistant, who would officially be employed by the IoF from November or December and work from the membership body’s offices in London.

Pegram and Ken Burnett, the commission’s co-founder – a member of the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing until it concluded its work this year – sent an update to supporters of the initiative yesterday, announcing that Martyn Lewis, chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations had agreed to chair the commission and that Pegram would be vice-chair.

"Our initial approach canvassing support for the idea brought in 23 ‘eminent’ individuals from across the profession, who all agreed to sign a letter announcing the initiative to other fundraisers and interested parties," the email said. "This was then sent to a further approximately 140 individuals. So far it’s achieved more than a 75 per cent positive response, with more to come."

It said that Pegram, Burnett and Lewis were assembling a list of 10 potential candidates to sit on the commission panel.

The email said that because the initiative was independent, individual charities would not be asked to sign up and special interest groups, suppliers and sector bodies would not be able to have any official affiliation with it.

The message said the commission planned to draw on existing and soon-to-be-published research, such as the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy’s study into donor attitudes. It might carry out its own research in order to capture the best sector experiences of and practices for providing effective donor-centred fundraising.

Pegram told Third Sector that the commission had its "soft launch" yesterday, when he and Burnett both published blogs about the commission and Burnett was interviewed by the BBC, although this had not yet been broadcast.

He said they intended to approach more mainstream media about the initiative in December, once the commission’s employees and commissioners were in place.

Pegram said that Listen Fundraising – which in June was the focus of a Daily Mail report claiming it used high-pressure donor-recruitment tactics – had wanted to be associated with the commission because it was a "whiter-than-white" initiative.

He said it was appropriate for the commission to accept support from the company because its managing director, Tony Charalambides, had reassured him that Listen had changed its practices in the past few months.

Pegram said the commission aimed to produce its final report in December 2016 and would produce one interim report in the meantime. The report would contain recommendations for the IoF, NCVO and the charity chiefs body Acevo as to how they could help strengthen relationships between fundraising organisations and donors.

He said it might also make recommendations to the new regulator that Sir Stuart Etherington’s review of the self-regulation of fundraising said should be established.

Etherington’s review, which was published last week, welcomed the commission, saying it encouraged "any move that shifts fundraising away from aggressive or pushy techniques and instead towards inspiring people to give and creating long-term, sustainable relationships."

Pegram said it was Etherington who had suggested Lewis for the role of chair for the initiative.

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