Invasive” Fundraising – New Research
Monday, 4th April 2005 at 1:04 pm
‘Invasive” Fundraising – New Research
A Melbourne researcher says it is not necessary for charities to resort to what has been described as ‘invasive’ fundraising techniques in order to achieve a successful revenue stream.
Julie Bilby has researched Alternatives To Invasive Fundraising Techniques For Nonprofit Organisations In Australia as part of a Master of Business (Marketing), in the Faculty of Business, at RMIT University.
The report describes ‘invasive’ fundraising as any fundraising method that is unsolicited, uninvited and unwelcome on the part of consumers in general. The research examines street collections, door to door fundraising, telemarketing along with direct mail outs and ‘eventing’.
Bilby says Not for Profit organisations around the world appear to be attracting criticism for the use of what could be considered invasive and intrusive fundraising techniques.
She says research suggests that such techniques may ultimately undermine the reputations and future fundraising efforts of the organisations that use them.
However, Bilby is quick to point to organisations that use these techniques with extraordinary success such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
Success here, she says is due to their branding being so strong in the market place.
The research says that comparatively little is known about how donors perceive these techniques, less about how fundraising practitioners view them, and even less about successful fundraising in an Australian context.
The goal of the research paper was to produce a set of recommendations that could be of practical benefit to fundraising professionals, based on the collective expertise and experience of others working in the field.
The research found that although some of the more invasive fundraising techniques (street collections, door to door collecting, and telemarketing) could produce short-term results, it was more profitable in the long run to employ alternatives that would build and develop donor relationships.
The report begins with an investigation and analysis of existing literature as well as qualitative research in the form of a series of case studies and interviews with ‘experts’ in the field of fundraising.
Bilby says one of the surprising findings was that although one of the main success factors drawn from both the case studies and the literature was the need to know and understand the target market, its motivations and barriers to giving, and to segment them accordingly, in practice this was found to be somewhat lacking.
She says the admissions of fundraising practitioners regarding the limited knowledge of their target markets were unexpected, coming as they did from organisations with large, sometimes multi million dollar, fundraising budgets.
However, rather than being a criticism, she says it underscores the pressure and limited resources that these professionals, by their own admission, were operating under.
Bilby says practitioners understand that fundraising which relies on invasive and intrusive techniques may alienate potential donors and should be carried out with a combination of fundraising activities.
She says the next challenge is to find alternatives.
This could begin as simply as conducting a survey of existing supporters from which to form a picture of the type of person that is drawn to the organisation and its cause.
Then there is the challenge to try new ideas and theories and not be afraid of new technologies such as the Internet, but rather look for ways to harness their potential.
Finally, the research says there is an encouragement to persist with a long-term vision, resisting the temptation to resort to short-term ‘fixes’ and instead focusing on building trust, relationships and a good reputation.
Fundraising ‘events’ were seen as a best practice option – events where an organisation can own and build on the concept and encourage and obtain ongoing and strong sponsorship.
Bilby says the limitations encountered during the research were not so much related to the research itself but to the ability of fundraising practitioners to apply the theories presented.
They knew the answers, and knew what they ‘should’ be doing but were too under-resourced and too busy with day to day operations to have time for the research and analysis they knew they should be doing.
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