Oxfam plans less complex fundraising offer

Fundraised income at the charity has fallen for the past three years, so it plans to make its donation systems more audience-centric

Oxfam is to make its fundraising offer less complex and more audience-centric in a bid to counter falling fundraising income over the past three years.

Fundraised income at Oxfam has fallen over the past three years for which accounts are available, despite a bump in legacy donations and in contrast to the overall trend at the biggest fundraising charities.

Third Sector's analysis of the top-10 fundraising charities, including Oxfam, showed that, although overall donations had grown in the past three years on average, legacy growth had masked the fact that other forms of donations were stalling.

The Oxfam figures relate to the three years to the end of March 2018, largely before the safeguarding scandal broke with the publication of newspaper stories in January 2018 about the behaviour of some Oxfam staff in Haiti.

In that period, legacy income rose by 4 per cent, from £17.3m to £18m, while other forms of fundraised income fell by 19.7 per cent, from £128.2m to £102.9m. Overall fundraised income fell from £145.5m to £120.9m, a drop of 16.9 per cent.

Nicola Tallett, director of engagement at Oxfam, said fundraising income always varied from year to year, particularly with emergency appeals.

But she said part of the issue was that some donors had received mixed messages from the charity about which ways to donate.

"In terms of challenges, two years ago we saw that our supporters were being put off by the complexity of the Oxfam offer, sometimes receiving mixed messages and communications about campaigns, shopping and giving," Tallett said.

"So we changed our strategy to become audience-centric, to ensure that it made sense from a supporter’s perspective. This has resulted in greater engagement, especially with digital."

The charity recently launched its own lottery and has been working with the People's Postcode Lottery, she said, and both initiatives had proved popular with the public.

The charity’s digital offerings were also showing promising signs, Tallett said.

"Our Oxfam App enables us to keep in contact with our supporters, showing them the total of their contributions to our work and the value of the sales of their items donated through our shops," she said.

"Being able to show supporters the difference their contributions make is vital and we find that this drives greater engagement with people."

The app and the lottery had been "particularly successful from a standing start" and between them had raised more than £3.5m in 2018, she said.

"Another recent success is the Oxfam Online Shop, through which our physical, high-street shops can list and sell their donated stock," Tallett said. "The income from this is growing year on year as people become more conscious of fast fashion and recycling."

Third Sector’s analysis of trends in legacy and non-legacy giving is backed up by the Charities Aid Foundation’s annual UK Giving report, published today, which says the number of people in the UK regularly giving to charity has declined for the third year in a row.

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