Conference hears how the fundraising crisis in 2015 made charities get their fundraising strategies in order
Charities should have seen problems with fundraising before it became a crisis, Oxfam’s communications director has told a conference.
And the Daily Mail’s relentless attack on the sector effectively made fundraisers get their act together, he believes.
Jack Lundie was speaking at an event on how to manage charity communications in a crisis and said charities should have known that fundraising activities were making supporters unhappy.
The Mail on Sunday sent an undercover reporter to a call centre which fundraised for Oxfam, and accused the charity of, among other things, targeting 98-year-olds – an allegation Oxfam denies.
“Olive Cooke was the signpost that we failed to see coming,” Lundie said.
We should have seen this coming a lot further off.”
Staff realised what was happening as charities had engaged in tactics which their own staff did not enjoy being on the receiving end of, and that the sector should have realised this was not acceptable.
“The Mail story highlighted that we were engaging in marketing processes that were completely legal, but we’ve all had enough of them,” he said. “The Mail did us a favour, if we’re honest.”
Oxfam, liked other charities, had failed to assess whether agencies were training staff in the way the charity wanted. “There were things going on that we were not sufficiently engaged in monitoring,” he said.
After apologising unreservedly, Lundie said Oxfam didn’t suffer adversely for doing so.
He said this was because “our supporters want to believe in Oxfam” and had looked for and accepted evidence that the charity had changed its ways. “There is a watermark, and trust returned to that watermark,” he said.