Who has permission?

Big conversations are happening in the sector about permission. Who can we contact, when and how often, and about what.

Clearly there are guidelines and rules in place designed to protect people’s privacy and data, to protect them from harassment and to keep the fundraising and marketing industry’s nose clean. And clearly there are some charities and agencies who stick more closely to those rules than others.

But if there’s anything that the recent furore makes clear, it’s that permission doesn’t live as a flag in a database. It doesn’t exist as a box on the end of a form that someone fails to tick. It doesn’t live in pages of rules and guidelines, necessary as they are.

It lives in people’s hearts and minds.

And in a society where our time and attention are precious, where there are more brands (let alone charity brands) demanding our attention, where we guard our data and our privacy more closely, that matters more than ever.

So as fundraisers we should aim to claim permission in hearts and minds. We should offer people great experiences. Powerful stories. Enriching, interesting, provocative content. We should start by adding value to their lives – not by extracting it.

“I legally have permission to harass you” is not a great conversation opener.

“Remember that life-changing experience we had together?” might be.