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Major donors are deterred if they don't receive thanks

Greater appreciation could be shown to philanthropists, says Fred Mulder, founder of the Funding Network

Fred Mulder
Fred Mulder

Major philanthropists have been put off making repeat donations to some charities because they felt they had been ungrateful for gifts they had received previously, a session heard yesterday.

In Meet the Donors, three major givers explained why they gave money and what they thought about charities that had approached them for cash.

Fred Mulder, an art dealer originally from Canada, donates money through the Funding Network, a Dragons’ Den-style forum he founded for charities to pitch for funding. He told delegates: "There’s been a number of times when I’ve not been thanked early enough or at all."

His remarks were echoed by Simon Weil, a senior lawyer at the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, who is a trustee of the Handel House Museum in London.

Weil praised the work of charities in adapting to the changing needs of beneficiaries and "firing people up" to support good causes. But he said they could display more empathy towards donors.

"When it comes to major donors, greater appreciation could be shown and there could be a greater display of empathy," he said.

Leslie Morgan, owner and managing director of Durbin, an international pharmaceutical wholesale company, has helped to donate to charities £20m worth of products reaching the end of their shelf lives.

He said he had previously been put off from giving to charities that failed to acknowledge his donations in a timely fashion.

"I need to see receipts from charities when I make donations to them," said Morgan. "One charity took several months to send a receipt, even though I had asked it for one on numerous occasions. I did not support it again."

The donors also set out their own particular preferences on how they should be contacted. Morgan said he wanted to receive letters from charities only by second-class post, but Mulder said email was best.

Mulder said that one major charity missed out on a "huge opportunity" for donations because of a poorly planned event for donors: he said the audience was full of donors like himself, but none were invited to speak.

- Read more news and comment from this year's IoF National Convention

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