The recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), A Bit Rich, seems to have caused a bit of a stir in the fundraising community, with its assertion that giving time should be promoted ahead of giving money.
It won't come as a surprise that I disagree with this conclusion, but I do welcome the IPPR's involvement.
One of the areas where the report is correct is in saying that charities need to focus on the triggers and motivations that get people giving.
UK charities are very good at what you might call "distance
fundraising, engaging large numbers of donors using ads and direct marketing to get them giving small amounts. Where we seem to fall down is on the more personal approach, and the ability to encourage larger gifts through personal contact.
At the Giving Campaign we recognise that charities are the ones who can inspire donors to give. But some of the IPPR's findings are based on the surprising premise that a donor cannot be both engaged in the cause and motivated to maximise the impact of their donations. Tax-effective and planned giving are important because the ideal donor is one who both identifies passionately with their charity and plans their giving so as to provide as much support as they can. This is another area in which we hope to be able to make a difference.
The IPPR's claim that giving time should have priority over giving money is based on another false dichotomy. While it is vital for people have an emotional engagement with a cause before they do anything practical, to suggest that giving time is a panacea for this is too simplistic. Many people want to give money instead of time and others want to give both.
We support any starting point that launches an individual on their personal journey of community involvement. It just isn't practical to suggest that charities shift their focus away from asking for money towards asking for time. Large fundraising charities such as Oxfam do not need two million volunteers, they need two million donors giving regularly if they are to tackle the issues they face.
Engaging people to give, whatever and however they give, is the key.
The report is a useful reminder that the core requirement of fundraising will always be good old-fashioned human engagement.