Charities defend use of pens and other gifts

Leading charities have defended fundraisers' use of incentives such as pens in fundraising packs after direct marketing experts questioned their value.

Several direct marketing agencies told the Institute of Fundraising that gifts should be distributed only if they are relevant to a charity's cause (Third Sector Online, 12 November).

Agencies also told the institute charities should be required to tell donors the cost of expensive incentives and why they are included.

They submitted their views as part of the institute's consultation on its direct marketing code of fundraising practice, which runs until the end of the month.

Robbie Buscombe, direct marketing manager at Mencap, said the charity did not use incentives in its direct marketing, but added: "They can be an effective way to achieve specific objectives. A pen can encourage people to take part in a postal survey."

Mark Astarita, fundraising director at the British Red Cross, said he suspected the institute was publicising the agencies' view to stimulate more response to the consultation. He said: "Incentives may not be in agencies' interests, but they are effective and appropriate."

- See Editorial, page 12.

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