Soap Box: This sector-wide research can be so demoralising

There is too much doom and gloom around fundraising and donors, argues legacy fundraiser Richard Radcliffe

Richard Radcliffe
Richard Radcliffe

Month after month we have been reading the most irrelevant and demoralising headlines about the public's attitude to charity fundraising: trust is at an all-time low; two-thirds of the public are uncomfortable with fundraising methods. I could go on, but I refuse to. Every week there is doom and gloom; and it is so wrong.

This sector-wide research is not only irrelevant and demoralising, but it is also creating a totally imbalanced picture that is doing no charity any favours. Since the media attention on Olive Cooke, featuring only five charities out of 164,000, we have been bombarded by research on how the whole world feels about charities and fundraising.

Research into donor attitudes has become just like fundraising: it's done too often and there is too much. So stop it. Now. In the eyes of donors, does "sector-wide research" have any relevance? No. What is so incredibly sad is that this attitude applies to the few and not the many. The few have tainted the many. A donor does not relate to the sector. A donor relates to the charity they support because they love the work it does and the way outcomes and impact are communicated.

Every week I meet donors whose wild enthusiasm for their charities is undiminished because these charities have practised the art of fundraising beautifully for years. These include, in recent months, MSF, Hope & Homes for Children and the Brain Tumour Charity, to name a few. It is time to focus on celebrating success. We should encourage donors and volunteers to speak out about the charities they love. Let's move on.

Richard Radcliffe is a legacy fundraiser and the founder of Radcliffe Consulting

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