Charities target the rich

Fund-raisers are using computers to find wealthy potential donors, writes Clare Garner
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The Independent Online
FORGET flag days and random mailshots. Charities now are targeting potential donors who will be most sympathetic to their cause. Fund-raisers are turning to a new technique - "relationship funding" - to find donors whom they can nurture and encourage to contribute more, or who have a particular connection with the cause.

It works like this. The charities target you if you live at a top-notch address and have an obvi- ous connection with a cause (for example, a relative has died of a disease represented by a charity).

Until now, charities have been quiet about relationship funding for fear of being branded cynical. But several organisations have been helping charities, through the use of their databases, to target donors.

One company, Fundraising, Research and Consultancy Ltd (FR&C), based in Cheltenham, has been building up a database about the public for 20 years. Kay Holmes-Siedle, one of three directors, is evangelical about her work. "Charities have a real opportunity to allow people to do their bit to change the world. Donors can turn charity dreams into reality. There's not much that you can buy that allows you to do that."

She uses selection criteria such as the wealthy streets of London to shortlist names. The next step is to find the "special people": that is, the rich who have a particular reason to be interested in the charity.

FR&C's wealthiest streets include The Boltons, home to David Bowie and Jackie Stewart; the Little Boltons, where "superwoman" fund manager Nicola Horlick lives; Cadogan Square, whose residents include Tony Ryan, multi-millionaire owner of Irish cut-price airline Ryanair; and Chester Square, where Lady Thatcher, Joan Collins, Tiny Rowland and Lord Hindlip, the head of Christie's, are neighbours.

The Factary is another company that works for the non-profit sector. Among its clients are Help the Aged, the British Heart Foundation, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and Oxfam. When Angela Hope, sales and marketing director of The Factary, is handed a database of names she aims to pare it to as few as 100. She applies three criteria: motivation, wealth and connections. "For example, with a cancer charity, if someone has a personal connection with or experience of cancer it makes them an excellent prospect," she explained. "With Oxfam, it helps if someone has worked in the developing world or is a board director of a company which has overseas subsidiaries in places such as India or Africa." The charity can then devise ways of "getting to know" these individuals better, perhaps by inviting them to a "donor reception".

Fiona Hesselden, head of national fund-raising at Unicef, believes that using FR&C is money well spent. "Rather than going out and looking for more people to support us at a lower level, we are able to go out and have proper conversations with people who are already giving to us and expressing support. We have people who came in at one level and are now supporting at a much higher level."

Five years ago, Shelter received less than pounds 100,000 from individuals. The sum is now about pounds 600,000, a direct result, according to John Trampleasure, fund-raising director, of nurturing individuals. Anyone who gives pounds 250 or more is researched by FR&C on the basis that if they are giving that much, they could, potentially, be "up for giving more".

Britain is moving towards the American model, where 20 per cent of charity cash comes from individuals, compared with 5 per cent in Britain. Ian Ventham, head of fund-raising at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), feels companies such as FR&C and The Factary are invaluable. Three years ago the RNLI did a trawl of 300,000 names and addresses, picked out 500 of donors who either supported the charity socially, had a title or an "interesting" address, and handed them to FR&C.

"Kay identified 80 people of 'significant wealth' and four multi-millionaires," said Mr Ventham. "Often information is sitting in the database that you are not aware of. For example, I happened to notice that the wife of a very eminent building company manager was supporting us to the tune of pounds 20 a year. After a bit of digging I found that the same family are keen sailors."

Mr Ventham is unapologetic about his tactics. "It all smacks of being terribly hard-nosed - and it is. But it's not hard-sell. I can get close to the wife of a builder but she ultimately has to decide if she wants to support us more generously."

London's richest streets

Chester Terrace NW1

Belgrave Square SW1

Cadogan Square/Place SW1

Chesham Place SW1

Chester Square SW1

Grosvenor Square SW1

Eaton Square/Place SW1

Lowndes Square/Place SW1

Lennox Gardens SW1

Wilton Crescent SW1

Alexander Square SW3

Cheyne Walk SW3/SW10

Egerton Terrace/Crescent SW3

Old Church Street SW3

Chelsea Square SW3

Ennismore Gardens SW7

Rutland Gate SW7

Onslow Square SW7

The Boltons SW10

The Little Boltons SW10

Gilston Road SW10

Montagu Square W1

Kensington Palace Green W8

Upper Phillimore Gardens W8

Holland Park W11

8 Source: FR&C