New telephone fundraising agency is launched in Scotland, employing staff from collapsed firm

Dunfermline-based Karat Marketing takes on 25 former employees of R Fundraising, which closed in August

Telephone fundraising: new agency in Scotland
Telephone fundraising: new agency in Scotland

The former chief executive and two senior account managers of the collapsed fundraising agency R Fundraising have set up a new telephone fundraising agency, which opens for business tomorrow.

The agency, called Karat Marketing, is based in Dunfermline, Fife, where the majority of R Fundraising’s staff were located before the agency went into administration in August.

Alan Clayton, the creative director at the consultancy Revolutionise and chief executive of R Fundraising between 2010 and 2013, and Lauren Semple and Sharon Comfort, who were both senior account managers at R Fundraising before its closure, are all directors of the new agency, which was incorporated on 10 August, Companies House records show.

Hugh McCaw, who founded R Fundraising, has also been appointed a non-executive client services director at Karat Marketing.

The agency, which Clayton said was the only telephone fundraising agency in Scotland, is a joint venture between Revolutionise, based in Fort Augustus, near Loch Ness, and the Danish telephone fundraising agency Dialogous.

Peter Saxkjaer and Jacob Rolin, directors at Dialogous, have been appointed managing director and director of fundraising services respectively.

Clayton told Third Sector he had wanted to launch a fundraising agency in Scotland for some time and that the closure of R Fundraising had hastened this because it allowed him to hire staff who were made redundant when R Fundraising closed in July.

He said 25 of Karat Marketing’s 30 staff members previously worked at the former agency and Karat Marketing had also been able to take on a couple of R Fundraising’s former clients.

It has four, he said, including one political party, which he declined to name.

Clayton said Karat Marketing would have a better chance of survival than R Fundraising because it offered a different product that focused on high-quality fundraising rather than volume.

He said that R Fundraising had been wrongly structured, which led to its demise, despite the "heroic efforts" of Fundraising Initiatives, the company that bought it in January.

"Any business that focuses on short-term strategies rather than its customers will make a short-term profit but will end up saturating the market and destroying customer trust," he said. "We saw this with financial services companies but also a small proportion of organisations in the charity sector. The solution is to put the focus back on the donor."

Clayton stressed that Karat Marketing was a completely new agency, which held none of R Fundraising’s assets, although he admitted he was nervous about starting a new business at a time of such controversy about telephone fundraising. "But this is the ninth business I’ve set up and we’ve been hugely diligent because I’m risking personal money to set the model up," he said.

He said the philosophy of the new agency – "donors are worth their weight in gold and will be treated as such" – would be reflected in practices such as lower call volumes than other agencies and more focus on call preparation and delivery. It would also put a strong emphasis on data compliance and thorough training of clients and fundraisers, he said.

Clayton said Karat Marketing would fully comply with the Institute of Fundraising’s updated Code of Fundraising Practice, due to be announced on Friday, from day one and that it would act quickly to put any further updates into place as and when these were announced.

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