Gosh aren’t fundraisers a defensive, angry bunch of insecure people, lashing out at anyone who has the temerity to criticise them for being too professional, spending too much on raising money, or using aggressive fundraising techniques. Or maybe they aren’t. Maybe what some people interpret as an unwillingness to face up to what they perceive as some home truths about fundraising is really a sign that many fundraisers are just fed up to the back teeth of the same naïve and simplistic objections continually being rehashed and presented as insightful debate.
A few weeks ago, the Pennies Foundation published some market research that showed that the public “increasingly like giving methods that don’t require long term commitment”. According to Pennies Foundation – which, though I am sure it is of no relevance, makes and markets a giving method that doesn’t require long term commitment – the public had “resoundingly confirmed” that “not having to commit to regular donations, the ability to give small sums at the time of their choosing and to make a spontaneous decision” were are key factors that encourage them to donate to charity.
And this was trumpeted as if it were a Good Thing. This is, in fact, a Very Bad Thing.
The Guardian ran a pretty decent and balanced video news item recently entitled: ‘Why do people hate chuggers?'. Two-hundred-and-seventy-four people responded in what was a genuinely informative (though often ill-informed, as usual) comment stream (sorry, as a former officer* of my school debating society, I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘debate’).
My partner Sarah says that being a fundraiser allows you to see the best and the worst of people. You see the best with their fantastic acts of philanthropy. But you also see the worst of people with the often petty and vicious complaints they make.
At first, I felt dreadfully sorry for the fundraiser (as reported in Third Sector a few days ago) who was so upset by abusive phone calls from members of the public that she quit not just her job but left the whole charity sector. It’s not the first time that I’ve heard about a member of the public being so obnoxious that they’ve reduced a fundraiser to tears. In fact, it happened to someone I know just a couple of days ago.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association is based in what could be described as the ‘Fire Brigade District’ of London. The London Fire Brigade HQ is in the street that runs parallel to us, there’s a huge training centre, spread over two large complexes, in the street beyond that and, of course, there’s an actual fire station just round the corner.
All of which I think is kind of appropriate considering the amount of firefighting I’ve been doing since I started at the PFRA in June.
Well, this is my very last day with TurnerPR, before I leave to join the PFRA. And as I only have one hour and 36 minutes left, I’d like to use a few of those in publicly paying tribute to Jenny Turner for taking me on in the first place, being a great boss and a trusted friend,