Charities have come under a great deal of criticism, at least the larger ones, for poor fundraising practices. Smaller organisations, like BHT, rely on the generosity of the public to keep certain services going. In our case, it is First Base Day Centre. We need to raise nearly £150,000 for that service to break even in 2016/17.
There has been a really interesting study carried out between the University of Bristol and Remember a Charity looked at how people were asked to leave money as a legacy gift. A simple reminder, such as: “Now that you have looked after your family and friends, I’d like to talk to you about charity. Would you like to leave a charitable gift in your will?”
They also tested a similar statement but with two additional, more assertive, sentences: “Now that you have looked after your family and friends, I’d like to talk to you about charity. Many of our customers like to leave a gift to charity in their will. Are there any charitable causes that you’re passionate about?”
The results were fascinating. The first reminder doubled the number of people making provision for charity in their will, from 6% when there was no prompt, to 12%.
When they added the additional sentences, with their social and emotional content, responses increased further to 17%.
I don’t like Bob Geldof as a person (although I have never met him). But he had a more direct approach. At Live Aid he said, quite simply: “Give us your f*#kin’ money”.
Even though I am South African, I am still too British to take the Geldof approach. But I do think BHT, as an organisation, needs to be a bit more assertive. How about: “I humbly beseech you to part with some money so that we might assist the needy and deserving poor”. Nah, I don’t think that works either.
Perhaps this is the BHT ask: “There are around 150 people sleeping on the streets of Brighton and Hove each night. Over half of them rely on First Base Day Centre to get showers, breakfast, clean and dry clothes – some of the very basics to sustain life and retain a little bit of dignity. £10 a month will make little difference to you but will make a huge difference to the people who use our service.”