Experts turn against pen packs

Fundraisers should stop using incentives, such as pens and coins, in their fundraising packs unless they are relevant to the charity's cause, charity direct marketing experts have told the Institute of Fundraising.

If adopted, the proposal could put an end to incentives such as coins or umbrellas in packs, the institute has acknowledged.

Charities should also be required to include a statement revealing to donors the cost of expensive incentives and the reasons they have been included, experts from direct marketing agencies suggested in a joint submission to the institute’s direct mail code of fundraising practice working party, which is working on revisions to the code.

A statement could read: “This pen cost 2p. We included it because we encourage supporters to write to beneficiaries, which is an important part of our work.”

It could also require charities to include a statement telling donors that they should not feel obliged to make donations because they had received an incentive gift.

Charities should also be expected to consider the impact of their direct mail campaigns on the environment by monitoring paper sources and the unqualified uses of terms such as ‘environmentally friendly’, the experts recommended.

They also suggested that charities should tell donors if they combine several real-life situations into one case study in their fundraising materials and that charities should avoid mailing their entire supporter base more than twice a year.

The recommendations were made after a meeting called by the institute on 1 November to gather the views of direct marketing agencies. The agencies involved were Cascaid, DMS, Target Direct, TDA, TWCAT, Whitewater and WWAVRC.

The institute is asking charities to comment on the suggestions by taking part in its consultation before 30 November.

“The issues that these experienced direct mail agencies have highlighted will ultimately help to raise standards and drive practice forward,” said Megan Pacey, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising. “If these recommendations are adopted in the final code, it will be very difficult for many charities to justify sending items such as coins or umbrellas in mailing packs and comply with self-regulation. I’d urge all charities and organisations involved in direct mail fundraising to ensure their views on the technique are fed into the current code consultation.”

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