Charities 'asking for too little' in the downturn, argues marketing consultant

Andrew Papworth says it would be better for charities to lower their entry-point asks, but to increase the highest

Andrew Papworth
Andrew Papworth

Charities are not asking for enough money from potential donors, a consultant has concluded.

Andrew Papworth, a charity marketing, advertising and communications consultant, has based his conclusions on his own analysis of 800 press, direct mail and loose insert charity fundraising adverts that appeared between 2007/08 and 2011/12.

According to his figures, the proportion of adverts asking for one-off donations rather than regular direct debit payments increased from 61 per cent to 68 per cent over this period.

In findings published in the latest edition of his own monthly newsletter, Harvest, Papworth says the value of requests for one-off donations fell from between £19 and £262 in 2007/08 to between £18 and £177 in 2011/12.

According to a statement released by Papworth, the strategy of asking for less made no sense. "By all means keep the entry point low to help those who are hard-pressed or threatened by the economic situation, but there are still plenty of people out there who are doing okay and can well afford to give more," he said.

It would be better for charities to have a wider range of asks, he said, suggesting they should increase the highest ask but maintain, or even reduce, the lowest one.

Papworth also criticises charities asking for monthly donations. Harvest says that adverts for regular direct debits in 2008/09 on average asked for between £4.88 a month and £7.50 a month. In 2011/12, this was between £6.54 a month and £10.09 a month.

"By raising their entry points significantly they risk putting themselves out of reach of the ‘squeezed middle’, but their top asks are not ambitious enough at on average of only £10 a month," he said.

Papworth recommended that charities’ highest ask should be at least £20 a month.

"There are quite a lot of people out there for whom £20 a month is petty cash, if only they are sufficiently convinced of the need," he said. "Yet there were very few cases where the top ask was £20 or more."

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