Welcome to our March 2020 Monthly Briefing

This month:

  • Institute of Fundraising to receive Royal Charter status
  • Cyber fraud: Do you know how to spot a phishing email?
  • Donor Personas – Five types to consider
  • And finally – Ten weird items donated to Mind charity shops

Institute of Fundraising to receive Royal Charter status

The Institute of Fundraising and the fundraising profession have been recognised with the Queen’s approval of an Order granting the Institute a Royal Charter.

Upon receipt of the Royal Seal, the Institute will legally become the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. The award comes 37 years after the Institute of Fundraising was set up by a small group of volunteers, and originally called the Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers (ICFM).

Why a Royal Charter?

The grant of the Royal Charter symbolises an enhanced recognition of the profession of fundraising at government level. It is formal public recognition across the UK of fundraising as a profession and of fundraisers’ specialist professional skills.

It will provide equivalence with similar professions such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, or Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Message to members

In a message to members, Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said:

“This is a huge achievement less than 37 years after a few volunteers met for the first time to form what is today the Institute of Fundraising. It demonstrates, through the Royal Charter, formal public recognition across the UK of fundraising as a profession, and of the specialist professional skills fundraisers bring to their work, making the world a better place.”


Cyber fraud: Phishing scam

Phishing is one of the most longstanding and dangerous methods of cyber-crime. This involves criminals claiming to represent a financial institution, supplier or even a member of the charity’s executive team, sending unsolicited emails to an unsuspecting employee or volunteer. Recipients are tricked into handing over personal details or making payments to fraudulent accounts, through links to a fake website. Counter fraud expert, Professor Mark Button of the University of Portsmouth, says that small charities are being targeted by fraudsters, because they often have fewer internal checks in place, and staff and volunteers typically receive less online security training.

But do you know how to spot a phishing email? Despite what people think they know about phishing attacks, they consistently fall victim to them. Always look out for these warning signs:


  • You were cc’d along with other people who you do not recognise
    The email was sent to an odd-looking group of people


  • You do not recognise the sender (or the email address)
  • You know of the sender, but the email is unusual, unexpected or its tone out-of-character
  • The sender’s email address is suspicious looking


  • The email was sent at an unusual time
  • It’s a reply to an email you never sent. Or the subject line and content do not match


  • The email does not address you by name
  • The email requests you to click on a link, open an attachment, or disclose confidential information
  • The message is strange, contains spelling mistakes or bad grammar


  • The email contains a hyperlink with a mis-spelt URL to a known company’s website
  • When hovering your mouse over the hyperlink, the link-to web address is different from the one displayed


  • You were not expecting an email attachment
  • The attachment is a potentially dangerous file type (only .txt files are always safe to open)

Here are some simple tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing:

  • Avoid clicking on links in suspicious-looking or unexpected emails
  • Verify that all payee names, account numbers and sort codes and amounts are accurate before submitting or authorising payments
  • Always confirm that requests to make payments or to change financial details have been made by a legitimate contact or company. Use the established contact details you hold
  • Ensure all staff and volunteers are briefed about this form of fraud
  • Consider having two points of contact responsible for checking that an instruction received is legitimate
  • Always review financial transactions to check for inconsistencies and errors, such as a mis-spelt company name
  • Ensure your computer systems are secure and that antivirus software is up-to-date


Five types of donor personas to consider for your non-profit

Personas are the fictional representations of your ideal donor or supporter. Donor personas can be useful to visualise the people you are trying to engage in your fundraising campaign. In other words, a donor persona describes segments of your target market.

To create these personas, information can be gathered via interviews of existing donors, insights from social media and through other analytic platforms. When you base your non-profit’s marketing strategy around your donor persona’s habits and interests, you are more likely to see an increase in donations.

Here are five major types of donor persona your non-profit can consider developing:

1. One-time donor
To convert a one-time donor to a frequent one, it’s important to determine how they found out about your cause and what convinced them to donate.

For example, if they clicked through to your website from a Facebook ad, then you’ll want to continue to invest in that channel to grab their attention and to attract more people like them.

2. Large-gift donor
You’ll probably be aware that large-gift donors aren’t the easiest to attract! You’ll need to determine what they are looking for in a non-profit. For example, financial transparency is an important factor for most donors as they want to know how their money is used. So you may want to consider including this in your marketing.

3. Frequent donor
You may want to focus on the donor who makes donations regularly as you can always count on them to participate in your fundraisers. This persona is likely to stay up-to-date with what you are doing as they believe in your mission. It is therefore best to send them success stories, thank them for their donation every time and to be transparent with your financial reports to keep them in the loop and wanting to give back to your cause.

4. Corporate sponsor donor
A business’s main motivation to partner with a non-profit is to show off their philanthropic efforts, but also to raise awareness of their business. Your content is therefore going to have to be slightly different – it’s likely that a company will be interested in what kind of people you attract to your event to see if that is the demographic that their business targets as well. This means they will most likely scroll through photo galleries of your past events, read your blog posts, etc.

5. Volunteer
The volunteer persona also has different motives from a traditional donor. You may have volunteers who donate their time because they truly believe in your mission, but you may also have volunteers who need to fulfil a school or work requirement. By determining which type of volunteer is in your best interests, you can create your content accordingly.

For instance, if your organisation gets more help from volunteers who need to earn some type of credit, then you can share volunteer schedules on your website, social media, and email marketing while mentioning that it’s great for individuals are looking to fulfil a credit for school or work.


Ten weird items donated to Mind charity shops

Donations to charity shops come in many shapes and sizes: some turn out to be valuable, some are just odd. Mental health charity Mind has shared this list of some of the most peculiar items donated to its charity shops in the past year:

  • A see-through pair of men’s trousers and matching shirt was donated to the Mind shop in Stoke-on-Trent and picked up the next day.
  • One used toilet seat, given to the shop in Guisborough (this was thrown away for obvious reasons).
  • A set of false teeth, also thrown away.
  • A box of human ashes found in a jacket pocket by volunteers in Woking (promptly returned to its owner).
  • A book called “Hairy Hunks: A Celebration of Shaggy Stallions”, which “flew off the shelf” according to employees at the Bury St Edmunds shop.
  • A unicycle given to the Alnwick shop and bought by a happy customer
  • A pregnant doll was also donated to the Alnwick shop. It came with a removable “bump” to reveal a baby which can be taken out and a stomach that flips to a flat for when the baby has been born.
  • A pair of nun-chucks donated as part of a bag of toys, given to the Stoke-on-Trent shop. These were disposed of as they were deemed too dangerous to sell.
  • A catheter bag and tube were donated to the Alvaston shop (and swiftly binned).
  • A plastic container of gravy was given to the Hobs Moat Shop.

Andrew Vale, Director of Mind Retail, said:

“We are so grateful that people across the country donate to Mind shops. We get an interesting mix of items, and while I am not sure what I would do with transparent trousers, we urge everyone to keep giving. Last year thousands of donations were made to our 167 Mind shops, allowing us to help over 118,000 people through our helplines. With your help we can reach more people this year, which goes a long way in supporting those of us with a mental health problem.”


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