Face-to-face fundraising is sick of being “constantly stabbed in the back” by members of the fundraising community and needs charities to stand up for it, Public Fundraising Regulatory Association’s chief Mick Aldridge has argued in a stinging attack on the sector’s reticence to defend the practice.
Aldridge launched a passionate attack on what he called a lack of support for face-to-face fundraising from the sector at the Institute of Fundraising’s first-ever conference on the method in London today.
The controversial Newsnight 'expose' on the costs associated with face-to-face fundraising, where the British Heart Foundation was the lone charity voice defending the practice, was, said Aldridge, an opportunity to get the public onside that was “squandered by the sector”.
“At some point, someone senior at some charity, somewhere, must put aside their simple charity-specific cost/benefit analysis and be prepared to speak on behalf of the entire face-to-face sector,” he said.
“Many senior fundraisers possess a moral authority. They can argue for F2F in a way that the PFRA cannot. Burying your head in the sand or refusing to comment and hoping all the bad publicity will go away is not a sustainable strategy.”
He called for a “charity face-to-face champion” to step forward and be prepared to defend face-to-face when it comes under attack, but admitted it will be a “thankless task” and one which will be directed towards fellow fundraisers.
Aldridges’ attack wasn’t limited to the sector’s reluctance to defend face-to-face, but also centred on the “intolerable and hypocritical... ‘slagging off’ that face-to-face receives from some of our so-called colleagues from other fundraising disciplines”.
“That is rank hypocrisy and it has to stop,” he said. He noted that direct mail recruitment costs “are many orders of magnitude higher than for face-to-face” and challenged advocates of that medium, and others such as digital, to publish figures on RoI and costs for general viewing.
But the PFRA chief exec (pictured) attempted to end on a high note, suggesting that in the face of dramatic public spending cuts, charities have an opportunity to show the public that fundraising is an essential investment.
“This is the time, right here, right now, when the fundraising community has to draw a line in the sand and say, with one voice, we are the cause: without us, not a penny is raised and not a jot is achieved.” This is critical, he said, because “One day, the media will tire of face-to-face and they’ll come after another methodology instead.”