The Commission on the Donor Experience published the full findings of its 18-month work programme in June, revealing a mixed picture for fundraising in the UK.


The aim of the Commission is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a consistent donor-based approach to raising money. Having collected contributions from volunteers from across the sector. The result is a vast body of work that includes 28 projects, 526 ideas for change and 250 case histories.


Findings from its research showed inconsistencies in the quality of fundraising activities with many improvements needed and people reporting varying degrees of positive and negative experiences. However, the research also revealed much that the Commission felt deserved to be celebrated and learnt from.

In a survey of 1,040 people conducted in partnership with Qualtrics for example, nine in ten respondents had an example of a ‘best experience’ (such as being thanked sincerely, being respected when they say no and understanding the difference they had made). 63 per cent described their experiences of giving as “good”, while two thirds agreed that supporting charities brought them joy overall.


However, 87 per cent had an example of a ‘worst experience’, such as feelings of being pestered, or of being asked to give more than they can afford, and almost a quarter (23 per cent) felt emotionally blackmailed by charities. In addition, 57 per cent felt sincerely thanked, and 56 per cent knew how their gift was spent.


The value of offering donors choice over how and when charities contact them was also highlighted by the Commission’s research. Only 54 per cent of respondents said that the charities they support currently allow them to choose how or when they hear from them, but indicated that being kept informed on their own terms would positively affect their overall experience, and could increase the likelihood of them giving again and/or giving more.


Sir Martyn Lewis, Chair of the Commission, said:

“Our research shows that profound change is needed and that charities need to give supporters genuine choices. It is time we stopped thinking about what not to do, and started thinking about what to do better, ensuring that donors feel really great about their giving. That is why the Commission is making this call to action to charities and asking them to think seriously about the promise they can make to donors.”


The Commission on the Donor Experience has brought together the results of its research to create a body of resources for charities that includes 28 projects, 526 ideas for change and 250 case histories. These have also been summarised into a blueprint called The 6Ps, which set out the goals, principles and tools available for charities to learn from, copy and adapt, to help them look at fundraising from the perspective of the donor.