Charity PRs urged to work with fundraisers to revolutionise donor experience

Charities' fundraising and PR teams must work together more closely in order to improve the standing of the charity sector, according to a major new report from the Commission on the Donor Experience.

The cross-sector, multi-partner commission was launched in March 2016 following a spate of negative headlines over the charity sector's fundraising techniques, which have risked eroding trust in the sector.

The body was created to "support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent, donor-based approach to raising money", its website says.

It has today launched its full report, much anticipated in the sector, which includes a six-point blueprint for fundraising called the '6Ps' - these are purpose, permanent change, principles, pillars of change, promise to donors and practical actions.

Richard Spencer, director of the commission, said: "Charities enjoy enormous public support. As a result they, quite rightly, come under scrutiny.

"The Commission on the Donor Experience is calling on those who provide PR expertise to charities - be that their in-house teams or external agencies - to work more closely with the fundraising teams to help improve knowledge and understanding of how the media operates, so that better relations can be established with journalists and improved storytelling about the great work of charities can be achieved."

Simon Francis, chair of the PRCA's charity and not-for-profit group, echoed these sentiments, saying: "Those that build and protect the reputation of charities must be at the top table when it comes to decision making about fundraising for an organisation.

"We also need to see fundraising and communications less as separate disciplines, responsible for different outputs, but as part of the same donor experience."


Today's report includes a section by Reuben Turner, creative director of fundraising, brand and campaigns firm Good Agency, entitled 'How the creative process can help 12 charities focus more on the donor'.

Among his recommendations are that charities "bring fundraising and brand guidelines together to ensure a consistent experience for supporters" and that they create "the conditions where fundraising, brand and comms teams – and their agencies – can work together with common goals and combine their expertise effectively".

Another section on telephone fundraising includes a recommendation that, while referring to selecting fundraising agencies, will be music to the ears of PR professionals.

"Whether using an agency, or run in-house, sufficient budget and staff resources should be allocated to the telephone to ensure a quality experience for donors. In particular, agency partners should never be chosen on price alone, but on a range of quality indicators," it says.

Ben Russell, director of comms at the Charities Aid Foundation, commented: "Our research suggests that the things donors would most like to hear about are the people a charity helps and the impact it has had, so it is more important than ever for all of us in charities to tell the stories of the people we help and the things we make happen."

Read next: PRCA charity group gives cautious welcome to Hodgson review on third party campaigning

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