Fundraising: Charities delay fundraising until tsunami appealspass

Direct marketing agencies are advising charity clients to delay fundraising campaigns in the short term while appeals for tsunami-hit areas take precedence in givers' minds.

"When we're being asked our opinion by charities on whether the tsunami appeal will affect the responses to their own appeal then our answer is 'yes'," said Alastair Irons, chief executive of direct marketing agency TW CAT. He highlighted the shortfall in charities' funds triggered by the launch of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to demonstrate the impact that high-profile events can have on smaller charities.

Stephen Pidgeon, chairman of marketing agency Target Direct, said three of his clients have postponed campaigns, although he has given no blanket recommendation to hold fire. "We've delayed several campaigns, particularly with UK-based charities. Several of our clients have delayed by one or two weeks," he said.

Neither wanted to speculate on when active campaigning might begin again.

"One of the sadnesses is that it's the media that will dictate that," said Irons.

Pidgeon added: "It's when it's not the first item on every newscast on TV and the front page of every newspaper. It's interesting how long they have kept it going when you compare it with Darfur."

WWAV Rapp Collins client services director Lucy Owen said non-tsunami-related campaigns may be affected for months. "What may be hit is any upgrade effort over the next few months, as people may feel they have maximised their personal donation budget."

Another complaint highlighted by Riders for Health, a charity providing motorcycle transport for health service delivery in Africa, is that diversion of money to Asia is harming long-term work elsewhere. Joint chief executive Andrea Coleman said several funders had withdrawn support.

"We have now had several emails saying: 'In the light of what has happened in Asia, we are sure you will understand that ...' They seem to be doing precisely what they always say they are against - responding to headline disasters in an uncoordinated and emotional manner."

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