Mark Roy: Time for charities to stop targeting Dorothy Donor

Charities must cast their nets more widely when it comes to fundraising, writes the chairman of REaD Group

Aren't we all getting slightly bored of hearing what charities have done wrong? While the collective forces of negativity, led by Sir Stuart Etherington and the Daily Mail, have undoubtedly identified some weaknesses that fundraisers need to address, I think they have spectacularly missed the crux of the problem. This is that if charities only ever target a small segment of the population, of course they will eventually say "stop!"

Even with more than 25 years of experience, I still can't fathom why charities have never sought to target those other segments of the population. This broad untapped audience is demonstrably able to provide rich pickings for the wise, shrewd charity.

Our recent research has, I hope, buried the theory that the amount of mail received from charities is an issue for consumers. It clearly shows that only one segment has a real issue with volume and, surprise surprise, this is women aged from 52 to 65, ABC1.

This "Dorothy Donor" segment may well have delivered higher levels of donation and conversion ratios in the past, but this is unlikely to be the case in future. Charities must now cast their nets more widely, into previously uncharted waters. The truth, of course, is that any savvy commercial organisation is actually more interested in these segments because it is in these areas that growth lies. The donations may well be smaller and conversions rates lower, but because volume and frequency are not a problem, my belief is that the net contribution will ultimately be higher.

Charities make a huge contribution, but now is the time for them to take a different approach and respect the wishes of those who have said enough is enough.

Mark Roy is founder and chairman of REaD Group

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