The way we take part in fundraising has been completely rewritten over the last few decades. 20 years ago if you were looking to raise funds for a given cause you would either have to be out on the streets with a bucket or calling people to ask them to send you a cheque in the post. In the modern age this is no longer the case – fundraising has become a lot easier in many ways. With sites like JustGiving appearing on the web to bolster the population’s charitable efforts, fundraising in 2016 is radically different to the way it was 20 years ago. In other ways, such as in telephone fundraising, things have become more tightly regulated.
The telephone is just as valuable in fundraising today as it was two decades ago – it was reported last year that telephone fundraising is worth roughly £35 million per year. Because of growing unpopularity with the public however, the practices behind how charities go about telephone fundraising have had to evolve. In August 2015 the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) changed its guidance for charities calling members the public for donations, now stating that “fundraisers must not call donors who are not registered with the Telephone Preference Service unless they have been specifically notified that the person is happy to receive calls”. This is part of an initiative in the third sector to move away from being seen as cold callers – something which the Daily Mail was covering quite heavily last summer, stating that more than 50% of the public found cold calls annoying.
Interestingly, while this cold calling would have been considered acceptable in the 90’s, representatives from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have stated that anyone in breach of this would now be in breach of the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which can carry penalties of up to £500,000.
One way which telephone fundraising for charities has changed for the better in recent years is the adoption of 0300 numbers. 0300 numbers were introduced in 2007 as special numbers reserved for the government, its departments (such as the NHS and police) and registered charities in the UK.
0300 numbers don’t just help the public quickly identify whether their call is coming from a registered charity or an office in an unknown part of the country, they help charities save money in their telephone fundraising. By carefully choosing the right service provider, charities can receive useful bonuses such as free incoming calls with companies such as Planet Numbers. This means that if you call one of your donors to let them know about a charity event you’re putting on, you’re not charged when they call you back for more information.
Telephone fundraising is still a big part of how charities make money. Charity telethons such as Sports Relief and Children in Need are still a big part of British society, and with the advent of SMS donations, texting money to charity has helped raise a significant amount of funding for disaster relief over the last decade. As long as fundraisers continue to work in a reputable fashion, meeting the new IoF guidelines along the way, telephone fundraising will likely stay with us for a while yet.