Styles of Giving?

I was contacted recently to comment on some recent research that has statistically proved that charity giving in the UK has not really changed or increased in the last twenty years in real terms. This also led to the challenge that was put to me of whether all our growing fundraising sophistication, energy and thinking was really worth the effort as “nothing really seems to have changed”. A truly depressing set of data that, if taken at face value, would probably ensure that we all brush up our CVs and search for new jobs where our efforts have dramatic growth and development results.

Frankly the translation of this research often seems to focus on creating sensational headlines and trying desperately to be controversial. The reality is with this type of research is that people nowadays are living such busy and ‘full on’ lives that it is often difficult to connect all their different routes of charitable support. So when they are asked about their charity giving I suspect we only get half of the picture. So here’re my thoughts on what I would like to describe as ‘styles of giving’:

Reactive/spontaneous Giving – a donation in a collection box, purchasing a Poppy, responding to a telethon or simply giving money to someone who asks is an instant reaction based on our natural philanthropic instincts. Yet, for most, this it is a momentary reaction and one that we forget or move on from pretty quickly.

Response Giving: often referred to as a one-off cash gift given in response to a direct marketing appeal. Consciously thought through and remembered in the short term.

Regular and Committed Giving: the central plank of all successful direct marketing programmes, now and into the future. People have consciously decided to ‘sign up’ and are clearly inspired by the charities they choose. This has to be the core giving that people ’count’ when asked about their support.

Engaged Giving: not sure that this is the best descriptive term – but this is the giving when people are engaged with their friends, family and/or community to the point where they will support their giving or charitable activities. Where would events be without sponsorship; one runner can equal one hundred engaged funders.

Emergency Giving: sadly in our world today for many core supporters this could be viewed as a form of regular giving as people generously respond to one emergency after another, but where does this fit in their memory of giving? For me this is a reaction that has to happen and I’m not sure I count it along with other forms of giving.

These views of the styles of giving also do not take into full account the 360 degree view of the donor I detailed in my last blog on taking the ‘Integrated View’, if you add this thinking into the mix you can begin to see, without question is that giving is alive and kicking and the level of support IS growing, despite the inability of research to capture the full picture.

At this point all the researchers will be defending their position in the methodology and rigour of research, but frankly I don’t buy it, we live with, on and through speed, the only true picture is in the hearts and souls of our supporters; if this is the case I am more positive and more driven than ever before to use the full range of tools, opportunities and styles of giving to maximise the value of our donors support for the many causes our sector represents and champions.

Categories: Individual Giving

Resource Type: Blog

Posted by Beccy Murrell

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