Study points to benefits of donor research

Written by Matt Ritchie

New restrictions on donor research would likely result in less efficient fundraising and irritating approaches to the public, a new study warns.

The Institute of Fundraising has published Good Asking, a study of fundraisers’ views on the role of donor research.

Dr Beth Breeze of the University of Kent conducted the study, which found 90 per cent of fundraisers believe conducting research enables them to better communicate and tailor their work to the interests and priorities of donors.

Polling almost 350 fundraisers and researchers working for predominantly larger charities, the study found 88 per cent of respondents believed conducting research reduced the levels of unwanted or irrelevant mail sent out.

Three quarters of respondents felt restrictions on research would make them less able to do their jobs, and 36 per cent said they would consider leaving their jobs were new restrictions imposed on research.

Wealth screening, a controversial topic after a number of large charities have attracted fines for the practice, was considered an important tool in ensuring a donor has the capacity and inclination to give rather than a method of getting more out of donors.

Breeze said donor research has played a key role in successful and ethical fundraising for decades, and it is clear preventing fundraisers from using publicly available information will hurt charitable beneficiaries the most.

“This report shows how research also benefits donors who want – and expect - to be treated respectfully as individuals and offered meaningful participation and involvement in the causes they so generously support. Donors are flesh-and-blood people with their own unique experiences, attitudes and preferences. Research enables fundraisers to understand and treat them as such, rather than as abstract names on a database.”

Access the report here.

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