A group set up to address concerns about charity fundraising exploiting donors has published a set of six principles to help PR and communications staff.
The Commission on the Donor Experience was launched last year in the wake of a media storm about the pressures donors can face. The commission brought together a group of experts, including Simon Francis, chair of the PRCA’s charity and not-for-profit group and founder of Campaign Collective, to encourage charities to improve the donor experience.
Its recommendations and resources include the following six principles which it recommends PR staff follow:
1. Accentuate the positive
- Communicate the positive impact of your work as much as the problems you address.
- Specifically, work to bring project outcomes to life, particularly by using them to authentic voices and enliven your annual reporting
2. Grow the grassroots
- Seek out the authentic voices of your most committed supporters and beneficiaries, and inspire them to talk freely on your behalf.
- Specifically, allow, empower and encourage local evangelists to use social media on your behalf, and agree on protocols and training to engage with mass media
3. Work closely with the media
- Build collaborative media partnerships that engage readers and viewers, and which offer win-wins with media and advertising supporters.
- Specifically, create fundraising propositions that have the media as a partner, rather than merely as a ‘channel.’
4. Keep it personal
- Communicate at a human level, across all channels, at all times.
- Specifically, explain beneficiaries’ experiences as personal stories that connect with donors’ real lives, and encourage donors to tell their own stories of emotional connection.
5. Be brave
- Don’t be afraid to assert a measure of moral authority – in a humble way. Don’t be afraid to lead change on behalf of your donors and beneficiaries.
- Specifically, stand up for the work you do by celebrating its impact, while still acknowledging the work that remains to be done. Behave as if you were providing ‘shareholder guidance’ and quarterly forecasts.
6. Be decisive
- Admit quickly when you screw up – and change things.
- Specifically, take decisive actions to honour donors’ needs in terms of your behaviour – and tell people when you’ve done it.
The resources published by the commission include 28 projects, 526 ideas for change and 250 case studies.
Sir Martyn Lewis, chair of the commission, said: “Our research shows that profound change is needed and that charities need to give supporters genuine choices. It is time we stopped thinking about what not to do, and started thinking about what to do better, ensuring that donors feel really great about their giving.
“That is why the Commission is making this call to action to charities and asking them to think seriously about the promise they can make to donors.”
- Pictured: Simon Francis