Fundraising News: Fruitful founder denies mismanagement claim

The founder of the Fruitful Fundraising group that went into administration last month with the loss of 800 jobs (Third Sector, 28 July) has hit back at criticisms of his management of the company, and blames its failure on a general backlash against face to face.

Chris Coleridge has denied that Fruitful’s problems were unique, pointing out that the company was the third professional fundraising agency to have entered administration since late last year. Caring Together and The Push Consultancy both went into administration before Fruitful’s collapse.

He admitted that “with hindsight, I could have made some mistakes in setting strategy and in some respects misjudged where the market was going”, but stated he was going forward “with a clear conscience”.

Coleridge denied rumours that he was going to set up a new fundraising agency abroad. He said a lucrative agreement to fundraise on major rail stations was cancelled by Network Rail because of reports that money raised by “chugging” did not go to charities, though a Network Rail spokesman said the contracts were cancelled because of complaints from passengers.

Many charities had told Coleridge in recent months that they were switching fundraising money out of face to face and into door to door, mainly because it did not have the same media profile.

Coleridge said: “The whole sector is in turmoil. In the seven months between the front-page attack on the industry in The Times last November and our closing on 14 July, Fruitful’s results in terms of pounds raised per hour fell by 27 per cent. Staff retention was even worse hit as the constantly-attacked ‘chugging’ work compares less favourably to bar work for middle-class students and graduates than fundraising for great charities did in years past.”

Coleridge defended his overall record of fundraising for charities. “In the last 11 years, my staff and I raised over £400m for more than 120 charities.”See Mailbox, p17

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