FUNDRAISING NEWS: Appealing to altruism can 'deter' rich donors

JOHN PLUMMER

Charities need to give people more selfish reasons to part with their money rather than rely on altruism, urged a leading sector figure last week.

Matthew Thomson, director of development at TimeBank, suggests taking donors to the frontline so they enjoy a rewarding experience and get to see how their cash is being used to make a difference.

Speaking at a seminar last week to discuss a new report by the Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) on affluent givers, Thomson says appeals to altruism were not the way to unlock rich donors.

"If the culture of giving is to grow then the benefits of giving need to be made more explicit - with benefits for the giver as well as the recipient,

he said.

"'You get more out than you put in' is TimeBank's slogan - persuading thousands of people that it's OK to look for a rewarding volunteering experience."

Thomson's comments support one of the key findings of the IPPR report: that wealthy donors actually may be deterred by organisations that appeal to them on the basis of altruism.

Report author Laura Edwards expanded on her previous comments that "givers want to give with a good heart and out of choice rather than compulsion."

She told the seminar: "Emphasising tax effective and planned giving mechanisms is not enough. We argue for a stronger focus on engagement and time giving."

Amanda Delew, chief executive of the Giving Campaign, agreed that engagement is the key but told the seminar it was wrong to see it in terms of a trade off between time and money.

She said: "The report is right to point out that people give because they are engaged by the cause. It is triggering the desire to give, whether it's time or money, not one at the expense of the other, that is important."

Delew added that the Giving Campaign was now conducting research into the type of donor that becomes engaged to such an extent that they begin to act as fundraisers. The findings, due out this summer, will add further flesh to the sector's picture of committed givers.

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