Charities should stop trying to get donors to give small donations to their organisations and instead work together to encourage people to give a percentage of their income to the sector as a whole, according to Mark Phillips, managing director of the fundraising agency Bluefrog.
Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention in London on Tuesday, Phillips presented several ideas about how the fundraising sector could tackle the public discontent that has been voiced about charities’ fundraising methods in recent weeks.
Phillips said that more than 100 years ago people gave on average 10 per cent of their income to charity, but this had fallen to 0.9 per cent among the richest in society and 3 per cent among the poorest.
He said charities should aim to get people who earned more than £100,000 – who gave the vast majority of donations – to increase their charitable giving to 2 per cent of their income because this would raise more money for the sector than individual charities chasing money for their particular causes.
He said the evangelical church movement had used this approach to great effect but charities had not tried it because they were each protecting their own "little bit of pasture". He said charities should move away from thinking about themselves and instead think about what the sector collectively needed.
Another way to reduce donor discontent would be to give people who were already active donors a way of communicating this without feeling guilty, he said.
Frequent donors could be given membership of a club so that when approached by a fundraiser they could cite their membership number, allowing the fundraiser to see the number of direct debits the person had already set up with other charities. "It would allow people to say no to fundraisers without appearing mean," said Phillips.
He said that the sector should conduct an audit of all active and lapsed donors every year, allowing people to rate how they thought they had been treated by the charities they supported. This would be a time when people could flag up any charities they felt had acted improperly, he said.
Phillips said that all fundraising approaches, including donor-recruitment packs, should include details about how people could complain about the behaviour of charities. He said a central website could be set up – called, for example, dontaskme.com – where people could request that charities did not contact them in particular ways.
Phillips said the sector should celebrate good fundraising practice by having an award recognising the charity that implemented the Fundraising Standards Board’s Fundraising Promise most effectively each year.