Thursday, 29 October 2009

What is an 'administrative' contact with a donor?

The case of telephone fundraising agency Pell & Bales rumbles on.  Now, the Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that it would be concerned if charities made 'administrative' calls to donors who had asked not to be contacted.

While it's really useful to have a legislative steer on the issue, there are other questions worth addressing.  And, from my point of view, the biggest is whether you can ever have a contact with a donor, or former-donor, that is purely 'administrative'?  While I can conceive from a charity's perspective that some forms of contact might be about tidying up records and the pursuit of good practice, in the mind of the donor, there is no such distinction.  This is very similar to what philosopher's call a category error.

Donors don't, I believe, inhabit our categories.  They see their contact with a charity on a continuum in which our categories of information-delivery, fundraising etc elide into each other.

So this presents a case for a much more integrated approach to the way in which we interact with donors.  Any contact might bring a donation, and, from the donor's point of view, any contact may be seen as asking for one - even if you haven't.

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