Around one quarter (26 per cent) of suppliers in the fundraising sector saw a reduction in clients or turnover over the last year following recent media scandals.
Almost one third say that their businesses had been negatively affected in some way or another over recent months, according to data collected via the Fundraising Magazine Suppliers Survey 2017.
The survey ran online for three weeks in January and February in conjunction with the newly-launched Institute of Fundraising Suppliers Forum. The survey included 15 questions covering everything from attitudes towards the current business climate to charity-supplier relationships.
In total, the survey received 63 responses from a range of suppliers covering all areas of fundraising services.
In answer to a question about recent cases of poor fundraising practice and the related media exposure, only three in ten suppliers said they had felt "little or no impact".
Need for firmer sanctions
Several suppliers called for the need for either firmer sanctions or sector-wide mechanisms for identifying poor practice.
Survey respondent Mark Nesbitt, director of fundraising agency UrbanLeaf, said: “I think it's important to have a stronger mechanism for identifying non-visible bad practice such as poor training, culture and leadership, and giving organisations guidance, support and time to make the necessary changes or make it public that a particular organisation is not fit for purpose."
A total of 62 per cent of suppliers said that they had made changes to their business as a result of recent issues.
When asked about the nature of those changes in an open-ended question, almost half (48 per cent) of those that had made changes indicated that they had raised standards by making improvements to compliance, training or recruitment processes, while 31 per cent had developed new products or services in response to the changed marketplace.
Nearly one quarter (23 per cent) shifted the focus of their work and 17 per cent spoke of cutting costs.
More communication with the public
Looking in more detail at how supplier-charity relationships could be improved, more than seven in ten suppliers thought there should be more communication with the public about how charities work with suppliers.
Survey respondents highlighted the importance of trust between working partners, so suppliers are not just a "delivery agent", as well as with the wider public, where further understanding is needed about the role that suppliers play. One respondent said that it was imperative to change the perception of agencies as being "mercenary".
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) agreed that their relationships with charities would be improved with better communication with charity staff across all departments about the organisation’s work with third parties.
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“Fundraisers need to be more involved in procurement, and to participate in supplier presentations, to have input and influence in what suppliers they feel are the best fit for the charity. It can't always focus on lowest price and highest results," said Paula Lucey, head of business development at Rapidata Services.
The full results of the survey are published in the March issue of Fundraising Magazine, out in print and online today.