Last summer, Olive Cooke took her own life and shone a light on aggressive, charity tactics. The public reacted immediately and harshly, and the government backed them with legislation to force charities to own up to their fundraising practices. It was signed into law just this month.
Yet, there are still people in the charity sector who look at their Excel spreadsheets and say, "Telephone calls and chuggers are working! All the naysayers who think people hate this stuff, they base that on anecdotal stories. No one is complaining to us about it!"
Ah yeah... the thing is they won't. They complain about our annoying, intrusive methods over the dinner table. And, at work during a coffee break. And, in the pub on a Friday. But, those conversations don't end up on an Excel spreadsheet.
The rise of Donald Trump has something to teach us: unless you genuinely connect to the concerns of your fundraising base, you will not only lose them -- they may just turn against you.
We saw it after Olive Cooke tragically died. Suddenly, the issues people had with our methods could not be ignored. People ranted about how they could relate to the harassment she experienced and, yes, how they hate us for it.
When Donald Trump faces the people in his political rallies, do you ever hear him spout statistics to calm them? No. Does he ever say, "The thing is about Mexicans is that they are doing all kinds of manual labor that Americans don't want to do and if we kick them all out, then the cost of eating out, landscaping and any other number of labor intensive jobs will sky-rocket."
The neglect of the working poor may have given rise to Donald Trump -- and that is a nightmare -- but that doesn't mean we can't learn by his twisted example.
Have we been neglecting our supporters like the working poor in the US feel they’ve been neglected? Sometimes sounding too intelligent just sounds patronising, and perhaps it would be more useful if we stopped shouting statistics and started listening.
For years, people said they didn’t like these methods but we ignored them. And, we continue to ignore them at our peril.
A final thought: A charity may profit off these methods, but what if it connected to its fundraising base in a manner they appreciated? How much more would both parties gain by this relationship?
Jonathan Cook | firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0)7921 250 211
Photo: Donald Trump Facebook Page