Oxfam has become the first major charity to pull the plug on its door-to-door fundraising operation, following a major decline in the sector which has seen donor sign-ups fall to a five-year low.
Until recently the charity had a long-standing relationship with the door-to-door agency Home Fundraising, but according to director of fundraising Tim Hunter it has now decided to drop the medium.
Only two years ago, Hunter’s predecesor – acting fundraising director Andrew Barton – hailed door-to-door as key channel for the charity. Between 2009 and 2014, Home Fundraising had recruited 63,000 donors, raising £6.5m.
Oxfam ditched its street fundraising operation in 2009 in favour of door-to-door but has now revived this programme, launching an in-house operation in 2014.
However, it was heavily criticised last year by the Fundraising Standards Board which ruled that the charity and its agencies – telemarketing firm Listen and street fundraising agency the Street Academy – flouted regulations by placing undue pressure on members of the public to donate.
And despite refuting suggestions that last year’s backlash against the sector was to blame for a major decline in door-to-door giving, Hunter told Third Sector: “While we worked to try to improve it, we couldn’t get the performance we thought was appropriate.”
Last week the Public Fundraising Association cited the triple whammy of “chilling” new Metropolitan Police measures, the media backlash and market maturity for a major decline in street and door-to-door donations.
PFRA figures reveal there were about 711,000 donors recruited by face-to-face fundraisers in 2015/16, down from 845,000 in the previous year and the lowest level since 2009/10, when 625,000 donors were signed up.
New income from street fundraising – so-called chugging – declined from nearly £14.6m in 2014/15 to £12.3m in the year to March 2016; doorstep revenue declined from £83m to £70m over the same period.
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