Any hopes that charities would be able to draw a line under the furore about their alleged bombardment of donors have been dashed by a double whammy of negative press coverage and a damning new report.
Over the weekend, the media went into overdrive to gather stories of consumers who have been affected, with The Sunday Times in particular going for the jugular.
Under the headline “Charities accused of bullying their donors”, one reader – Katy Ramage of Liphook – said: “My elderly mother-in-law was continually approachd by phone and letter. Three years before her death, when she was 93, my husband took over her financial affairs and we were horrified to discover in excess of 30 direct debits going out of her account to charities.”
Ramage also said that one charity door-step campaigner had signed her mother-in-law up for a five-year direct debit when she was aged 95.
Another reader, Alice Palmer from Banbury, explained how her elderly parents had been receiving regular letters from 92 charities asking for money. She tried sending the letters back but only 35 of the 92 stopped sending them. She had to wrtie the other 57 but only 32 did as requested.
Meanwhile, a new study by nfpSynergy of 1,000 adults revealed that almost half of those surveyed find it “very annoying” to be asked to give charitable donations on the doorstep or over the telephone. Some 48% said doorstep fundraising was “very annoying”; the same figure for telephone fundraising.
Survey participants were presented with a list of 11 different fundraising techniques, including telephone, doorstep and television ads, and asked to choose one from a list of six different statements summing up how they best felt about each technique, plus one indicating they were not sure.
The results back up recent research by FastMap, by showing that DRTV ads were viewed as the most effective way of fundraising by the highest proportion of respondents – 38%. Adverts or leaflets in newspapers and magazines was the next category on 35%.
Only 2% said they preferred to be asked to donate by telephone, while doorstep collections were chosen by 3%.
Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said the data was another sobering reminder of the irritation fundraising could cause and that it had become too tempting for charities to chase the extra pound without worrying about the long-term damage.
He added: “Charities simply must listen to donors and the public, because ignoring today’s irritation only makes it more difficult to raise funds tomorrow.”
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