CDE project 22: links across the Com­mis­sion projects and appen­dix 1, 2 and 3

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 21, 2017

Links across the projects

The detailed description of thinking in ‘the approach’ should hopefully have made it clear that influencing the media context is inseparable from changing behaviour as a sector.

Only by respecting supporters and beneficiaries equally and bringing them into open and transparent dialogue will we create consistently positive experiences that meet their highest expectations.

To this extent, this project’s conclusions are bound up with a general drive to mobilise supporters as advocates; to use language that is meaningful to them and to the media, and to refine the impact of charities’ work through contested dialogue, rather than relying on formal, linear, and sometimes misleading reporting.

All the Commission’s work pertaining to measurement, language and engagement are thus relevant to this effort, particularly the findings of Project 11 – as is the work by Ben Russell on the value of storytelling in impact-communication and by David Ainsworth and his team on fundraising investment (Project 20).

Appendix 1: Case study

The Children’s Society’s Ambassador Programme is a particularly successful effort at supporter engagement.

It mobilises volunteer speakers and ambassadors, treating them like employees, and connecting them as peers within a peer-to peer community.

The society invites both house-to-house collector organisers, church-liaison volunteers and other supporters to exclusive get-togethers that serve not only as a thank you for all their efforts, but also as a means for them to connect with each other and to reinforce their proselytisation on behalf of the cause. 

The ambassador receives formal training and then passes on that training at diocese level. They will often hear from the charity CEO, Matthew Read, and from project leaders doing work on the ground at training and supporter events.

They then ‘upskill’ each other using tools such as SharePoint intranet and learn how to use tools such as social media, as well as discovering early information about the charity’s campaigns and finding ideas and even slide templates for speaking. In addition, they receive training in understanding how to build their own Children’s Society network into local businesses.

Crucially, they increasingly become a “listening force” for the charity to gauge the state of the parishioners’ willingness and ability to support it. These volunteers are line-managed like regular employees and receive whatever dedicated training is most appropriate for them whenever possible.

Finally, they are invited to engage in policy thinking and in generating ways to link storytelling and impact management.

Appendix 2: Research sources

  1. Charity Commission Surveys:
  2. nfpSynergy:
  3. CAF: ‘Public Attitudes and qualitative research’ (Private briefing)
  4. Britain Thinks: ‘Literature Review Summary’ (NCVO internal documentation)
  5. NPC: ‘Mind the Gap’ (
  6. Understanding Charities Group: ‘Theory of Change’ and ‘Sector Narrative’. (Private briefings)

Appendix 3: Methodology

This project was reviewed in detail by Mario Ambrosi, Head of Policy and Communications at Anchor, provider of older people’s care and housing. The critique was undertaken in his role as the Chair of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) Charities Group.

A number of key opinion leaders and experts in the charity sector were interviewed for the project:

  • Sector Bodies:
  • Chloe Stables – NCVO
  • Giselle Green - NCVO
  • Sarah Atkinson – Charity Commission
  • Susan Pinckney - CAF
  • Ben Russell – CAF
  • Simon Ward - CAF
  • Dan Fluskey - IoF
  • Mike Smith – IoF

Opinion Leaders:

  • Joe Saxton - nfpSynergy
  • Carol Rawlings - Unison (ex RSPB Trustee)
  • Vicky Browning - CharityComms
  • Howard Lake – UK Fundraising 
  • Morag Fleming – Fundraising Consultant
  • David Ainsworth –
  • Kirsty Marrins - consultant


  • Emily Petty – Children’s Society
  • Richard Turner – ex-SolarAid

In addition, feedback clinics were held at both CharityComms’ Conference and IoF conference events, with input and feedback from approximately 40 charity fundraisers and communications professionals.

Finally, email correspondence was undertaken with:

  • Sue Wixley – NPC
  • Tris Lumley –NPC
  • Julius Honor – ex-Bond (now Contentious)
  • Matthew Sherrington - Independent

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.

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