By taking what might be called a “donor-first” view, this project has produced an analysis of donor disincentives, a framework for designing services to address them, and an implementation of such a service. Because we have not carried out market analysis, our assertion that similar provision could have a significant impact on total donation volume and donor wellbeing remains hypothetical but strongly intuitive. We fully expect that this provides ample motivation and clarity for other parties either to explore these questions more thoroughly or to begin providing new services to donors. We believe that in this paper we have removed obstacles that were preventing a serious problem with the sector from being identified and described accurately. The obstacles to solving the problem at the societal level are around building and transforming organisations, which require capabilities readily found elsewhere in the sector, government, business and entrepreneurship, so we now look to others to start engaging with these ideas and building solutions.
We advise individual donors not to wait for others to take action – we have outlined our recommendations for getting better outcomes from your giving today.
The hypothesis and independent running of this project raise a query as to whether research into the charitable sector is driven by appropriate priorities and adequately funded, and why no research in this area is widely known. While the charitable sector is staffed by people working hard in good faith under tight constraints, we believe that any failure to identify or set effective priorities is an important opportunity to subject the sector’s governance to scrutiny.
Our analysis delivered insights because we returned to what we want from charity, and accepted that there is a large amount of common ground that is not currently used. This was a naturally intuitive approach, since the anecdotal readiness with which we encounter strong skepticism and disenfranchisement concerning such a well-intentioned societal phenomenon as charity can only be interpreted as a sign that those good intentions are implemented poorly. We sincerely hope, and have here provided strong reasons for us all to be positive, that through the adoption of pragmatic and targeted approaches to how it achieves its fundamental aims, the sector can build a healthy global outlook.
We would like to thank the Charity Commission for England and Wales for making its database available in a form we were able to use effectively. Several of the positive characteristics of our solution might not have been achieved without this database, and it is a resource that was either lacking, less usable, or not freely provided when we looked at other jurisdictions within the UK and abroad.