Think about whether you should contact donors, says IoF head of policy

Daniel Fluskey tells a direct mail event that charities should worry less about compliance and more about whether contacting donors is actually effective

Daniel Fluskey
Daniel Fluskey

Fundraisers need to think beyond whether they are allowed to contact donors through particular channels and start considering whether or not they should, according to the head of policy and research at the Institute of Fundraising.

Speaking at an event on direct mail hosted by Royal Mail and the marketing company WPN Chameleon in London yesterday, Daniel Fluskey told delegates that charities should consider whether direct mail was likely to be effective for them, rather than simply worry about compliance.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation, introduced in May, charities and other organisations can contact people by post if they can prove they have a legitimate interest in doing so – which includes direct marketing.

But according to Fluskey, it was wrong to think of direct mail as "the ugly sister of fundraising – the thing you do because you can’t do something else", and he warned that this attitude could lead to charities missing out on the opportunities for effect and creative communications with donors presented by direct mail.

"When it works," he said, "it really works."

Referencing a line spoken by Jeff Goldblum’s character in the film Jurassic Park, Fluskey said there was a risk that fundraisers had become "so preoccupied with whether we could do it, we don’t stop to think about whether we should".

He questioned whether fundraisers were too preoccupied with thinking about whether what they were doing was GDPR-compliant rather than considering if a piece of direct mail would enhance the charity’s relationship with a potential donor.

"Because we need to be thinking about whether we should send it before we think about whether we can," he said.

This, he said, was the way to get great fundraising.

"Compliant fundraising doesn’t mean it’s good," he said. "Excellent fundraising has to be compliant, but compliant fundraising isn’t always excellent."

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