Charities could significantly boost their fundraising by targeting former employees, volunteers and beneficiaries, according to new research published in the US.
The research, conducted by management consultants McKinsey and Company and funded by the Omidyar Foundation, shows that charities' 'alumni' are an untapped resource.
The report suggests that people who have been involved with a charity in the past often feel an affinity with the organisation and are willing to donate money, as well as volunteering their time, professional expertise and contacts.
The authors found that the key to building a strong and loyal alumni base is through keeping close links with associates by offering a mix of social events and professional services, such as job bulletins and networking events. They also suggest that it is important to encourage present staff and volunteers to mix with past associates to foster the alumni culture.
"I suspect that a lack of confidence and resources is stopping us from catching up to yet another proven US model that could easily be adopted by the UK charity sector," said Robert Devcic, charity consultant at Global Village UK.
However, cultural differences between the UK and the US may make it difficult to copy the model.
"In the UK we are cynical when organisations send us newsletters or invites, and we wonder what they want from us," said Andrew Day, chief executive of Compton International Fundraising. "In the US it is quite different and people are more likely to feel flattered."