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Recruitment’s getting harder — so let’s work smarter

- Jun 28 2018

How do we know what we know in fundraising? That’s the question Meredith Niles will be asking at Summer School. As the Executive Director of Fundraising and Engagement at Marie Curie, Meredith knows a thing or two herself. We asked her to share her insights into the new regulatory challenges facing our sector, and what actions charities can take now to meet them.

Q1. What big changes or challenges do you see coming down the track for fundraising?

I think one of the biggest changes we’ll see is how charities will adapt to the new regulatory reality.  The increased standards around the treatment of personal data have undoubtedly changed how charities operate. Many previously profitable methods of recruiting new supporters are no longer viable, so charities will need to look for new ways of finding the people who care about their cause. In the “old world” fundraisers could relatively cheaply go out to a high volume of people, ask for an almost trivial initial donation, and then “qualify” these leads later through further asks to find the relatively small number who were really interested in their cause. I don’t think this model has a future. Because donor recruitment will be harder, it will force us all to work smarter. We’ll need to invest more up-front in finding people who are likely to be warm to our causes.  And we’ll need better donor propositions, more focus on meaningful value exchange.      

Q2. How do you think fundraisers can best prepare or adapt for those changes?

I think the regulatory changes are a blessing for the sector, and the charities that will be most successful are the ones who started embracing the opportunity early. That may sound counter-intuitive – normally having fewer choices is considered a negative – but I think the changes have imposed greater discipline and will ultimately lead to better supporter experiences. The charities that will succeed in the “post-mass recruitment” world will be the ones that have started shifting more of their recruitment budgets into supporter care and stewardship. The successful charities will be investing in getting to know their donors better so they can offer a more tailored experience and will be developing better metrics for tracking supporter engagement and loyalty.     

Q3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about fundraising?

The most important lesson I think anyone entering the fundraising profession can learn is not to trust their instincts…until they reach a point in their development where they have evidence that their instincts deserve to be trusted! Because giving is largely emotionally driven, it often defies logic, which works against most of our own instincts and also makes it particularly difficult to explain to people with less experience. My advice to new fundraisers is to set aside their instincts and try to learn from data about what works.

Q4. What has got you excited about coming to Summer School this July?

This is my first time attending Summer School; in prior years, I wasn’t able to make the dates work, and I watched attendees tweeting from the conference with a healthy dose of FOMO. I’m really pleased to be able to attend this year, as several colleagues who I really respect say this is their favourite fundraising event of the year.

You can avoid the fear of missing out, and join Meredith Niles to discuss how we know what we know in fundraising by booking your Summer School tickets today.