Friends of the Earth scraps street fundraising in favour of 'more profitable methods'

Tracey Pritchard, the environmental charity's head of fundraising and supporter development, says new forms of donor acquisition are generating better returns

Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth has ended street fundraising after 10 years in order to invest in more profitable  methods such as television advertising and inserts, the charity’s head of fundraising and supporter development has said.

Tracey Pritchard told Third Sector that acquiring lists of prospective donors from other organisations, such as people who signed environmental petitions, also provided better returns for the charity than street fundraising.

Until this month, Friends of the Earth appointed street fundraising staff through the agency Inspired People to work exclusively for the charity. Pritchard said that employing people who focused only on the charity’s cause area and who received in-house training allowed Friends of the Earth to maintain the quality of the programme.

But she said that new forms of donor acquisition, developed since she joined the charity in 2010, had generated better returns during a period of almost two years over which they had been analysed.

The charity suspended its door-to-door fundraising activity several years ago because it was less profitable than the street programme it then ran.

Pritchard added in a statement: "Over the past 10 years, more than 100,000 new supporters have joined us through initial conversations on the street, raising more than £10m. In recent years, our fundraising strategy has focussed on diversifying our income to ensure we can grow our impact in the long-term.

"A number of new projects such as DRTV and lead conversion are showing a lot of promise and the time has come to invest more in those channels. In order to do so, we have taken the decision to no longer continue with street fundraising.

"I have always championed the important role street fundraisers play in the charity sector and I’m sure that many other charities will continue to find this approach successful in raising awareness and funds for their causes."

The charity still uses telephone fundraising, Pritchard said, adding that 90 per cent of its donations came from individuals and that it currently has six million regular givers. Its latest accounts show the charity raised £10m in the year ending May 2014.

She said market research recently conducted by the charity had shown that its two core audiences were "generous environmentalists", who were older people who believed in the importance of the environment; and "passionate engagers", who were 25 to 35-year-olds who demonstrated their interest in the environment by leading eco-friendly lives.

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