THINKPIECE: We have to find better ways to attract donors

I hesitate to take on as distinguished a person as Amanda Delew, director of the Giving Campaign, but I don't think her assessment of the Institute for Public Policy Research report, A Bit Rich, is entirely fair (Third Sector, 5 June).

Fundraisers (and I include myself in this) have become product obsessed, whether it is gift aid, planned giving or whatever else we dream up. Do we take as much care in taking people from self-interest to charitable concern as we do over the wording on our gift aid forms? I don't think so.

In fact, I think we are often involved in a rather tawdry scrap over the shrinking number of people who do have a concern to give and we ignore those who don't. I don't want to be too hard on fundraisers, not least because nobody would talk to me at our conventions. I also acknowledge that we are not paid to make the world a better place. We are paid to raise money for our charity. Logic says it is cheaper and easier to convert a charitable giver to your cause than it is to convert someone to charitable giving and then to your cause.

The problem is if, like the dinosaurs, we spend all our time making sure we get our share of the decreasing vegetation and don't look at why the vegetation is decreasing, then surely it will all end in tears. I think the Giving Campaign is excellent, but it is unlikely to go far enough in bringing about a more fundamental change in the British attitude to charitable giving.

Individual fundraisers can't do this. We are assessed on short-term criteria and are under pressure to get as much money in as quickly and cheaply as possible.

And that is not the way to achieve change in the long term.

The IPPR report is a timely call to address the issue. The question to answer is who has got the remit to do it? I do agree with Delew that the report is simplistic in assuming volunteering is the way to gain commitment.

I would argue that there are a variety of methods we can use to get people to face up to their responsibility. Here, the report does help to clarify the issue. People have sophisticated arguments to justify their non-involvement.

We need an equally sophisticated approach, using many different means of engagement, to win the argument.

JONATHAN FARNHILL, director of resources at St Luke's Hospice, Turnchapel, Plymouth

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