CDE project 11f face to face: sec­tion 1 — why the gold­en goose of fundrais­ing’, F2F, is in such trou­ble now

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
March 31, 2017

The charity sector has been walloped over the head for the past year-and-a-half, through an unparalleled level of scrutiny on the practices that we undertake to engage supporters. Although the media have got some of their facts surrounding the events of 2015-2016 wrong, they have got some correct and have shaken the sector to its core. Many colleagues have spent the last year in turmoil, fearing the next exposé article. Agencies have closed down at an unprecedented level and the underlying anxiety experienced amongst many friends and colleagues still hangs in the air. What can we do? What is best practice? How can we continue to do our jobs? Are all questions that have been asked in recent times.

Face to face fundraising has however been subjected to this level of scrutiny frequently since the early 2000s. Media attacks on agencies appeared to become a yearly happening, with TV and press looking at this very public facing method of raising funds on a regular basis. The term “chugger” (charity mugger) was coined a long time ago to deter the public from engaging with face to face fundraising. It has had an impact. In 2008, increasing demand for face to face led to it being described as “recession proof”; see articles here: and

However, in recent times face to face looks less appealing to fundraising leadership. 

Some large agencies have disappeared altogether (eg Gift Fundraising Ltd in 2011, NEET Feet in 2015, Dialogue Direct in 2007, Tag Campaigns in 2013, Fruitfull in 2004, Future Fundraising in 2015, Fundraising Initiatives in 2015), and many charities with big campaigns on the street and doorstep have pulled them or reduced investment following the negative media attention. 

The approach

In this paper, we will look at how the success of face to face fundraising from 2000 led to increasing demand. When times were good, a level of complacency led to poor practice and the donor experience being ignored or sidelined. This in turn has had a very negative impact on the culture that developed around face to face. This has led to one of the greatest innovations in fundraising becoming a ‘damaged vehicle’, in need of serious repairs when it comes to driving committed donors to regularly support a cause. 

The approach has been to look at the journey an individual face-to-face (F2F) fundraiser is taken on, from his or her first day in the job, along with the support that is agreed between the agency and the charity contractually to support the new recruit in his or her job. This included liaising with in-house management teams and agencies to look at their relationships with their clients and the journeys a new employee would go through. It is by no means a comprehensive representation of every organisation currently using face to face, but has involved collaborating with those that have come forward to engage with the Commission, or those that have shown a willingness to meet and discuss the paper.

Click on the image below to view project 11f in full - PDF format.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

Related case studies or articles

CDE project 11f: face to face

The following paper looks at the way the experience for face to face fundraisers, both within agencies or in-house operations, has a direct impact on the way a supporter then experiences their journey with you as a charity.

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 2 - agreeing the principles of your relationship

How to implementing a practical strategic process successfully. 

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 4 - recruitment and training

Recruitment of your fundraisers and/ or your external specialist agency.

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 5 - ongoing development

By investing more in staff over their initial induction period, you can keep more staff, and retain more of the supporters that they go on to recruit.

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 6 - involvement devices and props

In 2004, Gift Fundraising took Personal Digital Assistants to the street for the first time! Gone were the paper mandate forms, (unless the server was down), and the novelty of the personal data system was unleashed upon the face to face world. 

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 7 - location and integration

Over the last 5 years, face to face fundraising has been moving to private sites. The danger here is that the annoyance of face to face is just moving location.

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 8 - public relations

Celebrating face to face publicly and changing the perception of what a face to face fundraiser is should be looked at in earnest. Some members of the public simply find it an annoying interruption in their day-to-day lives.

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CDE project 11f face to face: section 9 - auditing and compliance

Auditing the agencies that fundraise on your behalf is crucial to gaining a full understanding of whether they comply with your policies, and those of our regulators.

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CDE project 11f face to face: putting the principles and actions into practice

  • Welcoming the supporter and further communication.
  • Upholding Good Practices
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CDE project 11f face to face: appendix 3 - methodology

My approach to pulling this paper together was to firstly reach in to the depths of my own experiences over the past 16 years.

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