…. are we failing the public?

I can’t remember my first experience with charity. But I do remember the first time I donated to one. I was an 18-year-old student.

Walking through Avalon with a friend, I was approached by a lovely tall lady who worked for a charity. She asked if I’d make a donation and while I said ‘No’ at first, I found 20 minutes later I was signing my name to a monthly donation form.

For a split second, I thought ‘Wow, I feel good because I’m now a donor, giving to charity for a worthy cause’. But like I said, that was for a split second. Then came a feeling of hostility toward the charity. I didn’t want to donate and felt I had been misled. I said to myself ‘When I get home I’m definitely cancelling’. And I did.

That was my first experience with being a donor.

My second encounter was of the same charity calling me up asking why I cancelled and if I’d reconsider. Which let’s be real… got very annoying. A Uni student with a small income isn’t the type of reliable loyal donor we’re looking for. And I think we know this as an industry. So why are we still doing it?

I also think we’re aware that the public is getting more and more cynical toward charities. Have we as an industry let the public down with too many sales-driven fundraisers on the street, too many insincere phone calls and too little respect for their personal data?

The UK not-for-profit sector is undergoing a massive change, and in my opinion, it’s for the better. If someone you didn’t know gave you free money every month, wouldn’t you want to get to know them? Wouldn’t you feel like they were one of the most generous people you knew for whom you were really grateful?

But our sense of entitlement gets in the way and we seem to forget, without donors our industry doesn’t exist.

We need to wake up to reality. Donors are amazing people – let’s start treating them like it.

By Erica Price