Regulation, lack of trust and rising costs 'will kill off some traditional fundraising'

Marcus Missen, director of communications and fundraising at WaterAid, tells conference that his charity is becoming less concerned with making the ask and more with creating interest

Marcus Missen
Marcus Missen

The General Data Protection Regulation, falling public trust and rising fundraising costs will kill off some traditional forms of fundraising, Marcus Missen, director of communications and fundraising at WaterAid, has warned.

Speaking at Third Sector’s Annual Fundraising Conference today, Missen said that traditional channels of fundraising such as direct marketing and direct-response television adverts were "under threat".

He said WaterAid had become less concerned with many traditional channels of engaging with donors, which all included an immediate fundraising ask.

"If we think in terms of mass engagement, the GDPR and changing trust, in terms of traditional channels that were transactions focused purely on return on investment, many of them will be killed off by the GDPR," he said.

He described such channels as a "burning platform" and said charities could continue to throw money at carrying on with what they were already doing or focus on something else.

As well as becoming less trusting, Missen said, supporters were increasingly asking "what’s in it for me?" when presented with a request. This situation was not helped, he said, by commercial companies that were increasingly using the concept of social good in their advertising.

Missen said that, in order to stay relevant, WaterAid had focused on campaigns that created interest and engagement, particularly online, and encouraged people to visit the charity’s website, rather than asked directly for money.

"Within our engagement framework, we know the different stages supporters go through, from being aware, to being interested, to engaging, to taking action and repeating the action," he said.

He said engagement was no longer a single linear dynamic where people watched an advert, phoned up and gave.

"We know what channels we can engage people through, and then we know what channels we can ask people through – and they can be different," he said.

Missen said using the different method was "a leap of faith" but in WaterAid’s case it had led to an increase in the conversion rate of people who engaged and then ended up giving.

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