Only a quarter of charities report on the donor experience to boards, survey finds

A report from the Institute of Fundraising says charities should make regular reports to trustees on this issue

The report
The report

Charities have been urged to make regular reports to their boards about the experiences of donors after research showed that only about a quarter do so.

Improving the Donor Experience, published by the Institute of Fundraising yesterday, reveals that 28 per cent of the fundraisers who responded to a survey about what they were doing to improve the donor experience said they provided regular information to their trustees about the subject.

Speaking at the launch of the report at the IoF’s annual convention in London yesterday, the fundraising consultant Roger Lawson called on more charities to report regularly to their boards on the donor experience.

"I cannot think of another sector where customer satisfaction is not reported to the board," he said. "Yet three-quarters of us do not report to the board on this."

The survey, which was completed by 325 respondents, was a follow-up to the publication a year ago of the report by the Commission on the Donor Experience, an 18-month exercise sparked by the Olive Cooke case that produced more than 500 suggestions to improve fundraising.

The report indicates that smaller charities are far more likely than larger organisations to believe they respond to supporters’ needs. 

The survey found that 85 per cent of charities with annual incomes of £1m or less agreed with the statement "we go out of our way to meet the needs of our supporters".

The figure was 56 per cent among fundraisers from charities with annual incomes of £10m or more, researchers found.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Amanda Bringans, chair of the IoF and director of fundraising at the British Heart Foundation, one of the UK’s largest fundraising charities, said she was not surprised by this finding.

"Smaller charities often have the chance to be closer to their supporters than those of us at larger charities," she said.

The report says about three-quarters of respondents said "building great donor experiences with the aim of satisfying donors is the bedrock of their fundraising and communications".

The report contains case studies on three charities, showing what they have done over the past year to improve the experience of their supporters.

Chris Washington-Sare, chair of the IoF’s Donor Experience Special Interest Group, said: "Recognising the importance of improving the donor experience is fundamental to future success in our sector and we are committed to helping charities and fundraisers embedding this as part of their everyday work.

"We know that cultural change takes time and there is clearly more to do across all sizes and sectors of the charity sector, but we are starting to see steps in the right direction."

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