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Fundraising under the microscope and media cosh

Generally, charity call companies can indeed make a very persuasive argument to earn a charity’s trust but it requires constant vigilance to quality assure their output.

Raising funds for a charity is never easy, especially in times of economic squeeze and government cutbacks. We now aim to send out two to four appeals each year to our supporter base, crafting the materials ourselves to meet with ‘Common Cause’ guidelines, emphasising more of the positives instead of painting a desperate picture of desolation. Bee Wonderful Appeal (c) Buglife

We’re a small organisation and every one of our supporters is very important to us, they are part of our extended family. It also means that every penny raised in an appeal comes directly to Buglife rather than funding an external agency. We would never sell or pass our data on to anyone else and fiercely protect our supporters’ privacy. We’ve also recently invested in a new database that enables us to ensure that those people who do not want marketing materials, will not receive them.

Hopefully the big exposé will have a long term benefit for the charity sector by eliminating over zealous money chasing practices, but in the short term it’s making fundraising a more difficult task, even for those of us who steer clear of these sharp practices.

Just before the story broke we had sent out a supporter appeal and a lapsed member reactivation letter, the returns on these two mailings look likely to be down on our last appeal in November and two members have resigned claiming we had passed their data on to third parties.

This accusation is palpably false but understandable in the current media environment. However losing even one supporter hurts us greatly, they are family and invertebrates need all the supporters they can get.

I am also appalled by the apparent witch-hunt against certain charity heads. Stories have led with embarrassing photos and Twitter comments running in national papers alongside knocking comments on several Fundraising Directors of big charities. Certainly, mistakes have been made and the whole sector has been damaged by the rush for cash perpetrated by call centre hot houses, but this should not lead to personal public humiliation.

By far the biggest nuisance call at present to me is the perpetual contacts from mechanised voices talking about miss sold PPI or recent accidents - I know both are false, unless the accident has caused me amnesia that is.

Some charities have made a big mistake and hopefully they will learn lessons from this but spare a thought for the majority of charities who have not made these mistakes but are now suffering from the fall out.

~ Paul Hetherington

Director of Fundraising and Communications

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