A proper thankyou can go a long way

By Jane Thomas 3 December 2010

A recent survey by nfpSynergy found that people name child welfare as their number one charitable concern. Yet Coutt’s Million Pound Donor Report shows that the majority of million pound donations given to charity go to higher education and the arts. This raises a natural question: why if people say they care about child welfare are the big bucks going to universities and museums?

A brilliant blog from Mark Philips at Bluefrog might go some way towards providing the answer. In his post Mark argues that this discrepancy could be down to how charities treat their donors. It is not after based on need. He writes: ‘In a matter of life and death I’m sure few people would prioritise a painting over saving a child’s life.’ Instead he says the reason for these gifts could be partly because high value donors who give to these institutions are often given ‘special treatment.’

I was reminded of this comment when I read Lord Janvrin’s motivational speech at the House of Lords yesterday in which he called for ‘a step change in the culture of giving in this country.’ In it, alongside calls for the government to promote philanthropy and make it easier to give, Lord Janvrin told charities they need to play their part in encouraging philanthropy by improving the way they interact with donors. It drew to mind a conversation I had the other day with a high net worth donor, who recounted a story of receiving a photocopied letter with an electronic signature from the ‘donor processing team’ after making a donation to a well-known children’s charity.

Obviously human welfare issues will never be able to reward donors in the same glitzy fashion that a opera house can. But they can still think about how to show their appreciation to donors. Not many people give in the UK for the glory or the recognition. But even so, we should follow Lord Janvrin’s advice and celebrate those who give and their gifts. A proper thankyou can go a long way.