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Innovative fundraising after GDPRPhilip Pollecoff

by Philip Pollecoff, Head of Legal Services


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Innovative fundraising after GDPR

With a firm commitment to looking at data protection in a human sense, rather than just the legal requirements, our Head of Legal Services, Philip Pollecoff, shares his insights about how establishing trust at the front end of the fundraising process has never been more important.

We all have a right to privacy and care how our contact details are used. Therefore, when it comes to fundraising, we must ensure that we approach GDPR from a human sense, rather than focusing on the legalities alone.

We live in an age of personalisation. The growth of consumer choice and GDPR are confluent. We must recognise that gathering clear consent for donor contact is inevitably going to restrict charities’ fundraising reach, but it can also enhance sustainability, so long as we focus on building trust. Part of trust building is – in the words of the NCVO - ‘an updated and consistent approach to consent’.

Following the introduction of GDPR, the current pre-occupation with donor preference, the focus on the design of forms, persuasive copy and legitimate interest are natural in the context of compliance. Though it is not as purposeful as taking a step back and seeing the new data laws as an opportunity to start relationships with donors on the right footing.

How a charity engages with a potential supporter before making the ask for a donation is becoming an even more important determinant of the future relationship, providing the foundations for trust and a relationship to be built. This puts an emphasis on the importance of a charity’s brand and its congruity, and greater focus on meeting the needs of the donor. Brand building is the work of the entire organisation not just the fundraising department.

More donor choice means more emphasis on working out which donors want to be more involved with your charity and those who simply want to donate and receive the occasional thank you note and Christmas card. Indeed there is an argument to multiply the donor choices to meet their needs as an expression of trust. Such a granular approach is in the spirit of GDPR.

One campaign we are working on with the charity Brooke brings this concept to life, creating opportunities to engage with people at equestrian events with a shared passion for horses. The campaign encourages the public to post their messages and photos of their own horses on the charity’s photo wall at the event, initiating discussions with fundraisers about the work of the charity and the need for support. Brooke works with owners, communities and policy makers to bring about lasting improvements to the lives of equine animals around the world. ‘The welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules the world over is an overlooked - yet crucial - part of keeping families out of extreme poverty’.

Devised by Good Innovation with creative from Wisdom Fish, the campaign aims to build a trusted rapport with horse-lovers, from which they can build the foundations of a strong and committed relationship as regular supporters of the charity.

Establishing trust and building a relationship at the start of the process certainly creates more openness to giving and sharing with a charity. That’s why door-to-door and other face-to-face fundraising approaches, which initiate a meaningful conversation and trusted relationship can be such an effective way to recruit long-term committed supporters.

So let’s harness the strictures of GDPR and concentrate on trust building to ensure that the public truly wants to engage with us. Fundraising should be about enhancing charities’ brands and an enhanced brand in turn will only give your donors a more compelling reason to say yes.

This blog is based on Philip Pollecoff’s recent presentation, delivered at the solicitor firm Stone King’s Charity & Social Enterprise Sector Conference 2018 on 13th June 2018.

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