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Face to Face Fundraising Takes a Battering

Face to Face (F2F) fundraising seems to have taken a battering in the media over the last week or so. 

First up Ben Goldacre (author of the excellent Bad Science book) started a Twitter campaign using the #stopchuggers hashtag to vent about F2F fundraising.  It quickly gained some traction before dying out. 

By the way, for a quite funny rant against the campaign and Ben see the following post  - beware - bad language a plenty!

Second, Professional Fundraising magazine reported on two London councils attacking F2F fundraising and the PFRA.

Finally, the Observer asked the question 'Should we give to street chuggers?' in which Caroline Howe of the Institute of Fundraising argued for it and Richard Marsh of Intelligent Giving argued against it.  The comments make interesting reading and show the frustration some members of the public feel about F2F.  The best comment came from Mark Phillips of Bluefrog (*update* you can read Mark's full comment and some extra insight at his blog), who gives a reasoned and balanced appraisal of the situation, emphasising the need for charities to retain donors and communicate with them in appropriate ways.

I feel some of the backlash is a bit harsh on F2F, as other areas of fundraising are equally guilty of producing low returns and damaging the sectors reputation - cold direct mail for example.  The difference with F2F is that the audience it targets is much more likely to be vocal about it's dislike of the technique and use social media to criticise it.

The other big problem is that it is has become a victim of it's own success and the market is nearly at saturation point.  The PFRA do a good job of trying to regulate the profession, but the agencies and in-house teams are having to work harder for the same money and attrition rates continue to be a huge problem. 

However, in all the debate and criticism no-one seems to have come up with a viable alternative to recruiting new donors on the scale that F2F does.