The Commission has twelve commissioners. The primary purpose of the Commission is to review, critique and ultimately sign-off the recommendations that are put forward by the donors and fundraisers working together. The Commission is ultimately accountable for the output and acts as a sponsor to the overall programme of work. 

Each of the commissioners has described why they have joined this important initiative, read more to see more in their own words.

Sir Martyn Lewis

CBE, the well-known broadcaster and former chair of NCVO, is chair of the Commission
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Charities are under attack as never before. While most of the UK's 180,000 registered charities are true to their cause and founding principles, some have been found to be wanting through misunderstandings, over-persistent and over-zealous practices, mismanagement, and even at times, incompetence, laziness or neglect. And it is those relatively few but high profile cases that have had an undoubted effect on the reputation of the voluntary sector as whole. The criticisms may at times be unfair, but their perception is widespread and a growing chorus of voices are highlighting the need for clear action to try to return "Brand Charity" to its rightful, traditional place in the public mind.

So there is a clear and present need to create – for the first time in the history of this vast sector - a template for "the donor experience" which will restore trust and confidence where they have been lost. That means clear rules and guidance for what donors should expect from charities, and for a strong working relationship between donors and the charities they support. It is not an easy task in a vast sector where "one size doesn't fit all", but it is essential if the varied and substantial contribution of charities to the life and economy of our country is to be maintained and developed in years ahead.

I believe that the Commission on the Donor Experience is an inspired way to do this, and I am proud to be chairing a distinguished group of people who will focus their enormous experience in the sector on talking to everyone involved, and creating the first common "guide book" for charities and all who help them.

Giles Pegram

CBE, former deputy director and head of fundraising at NSPCC, is vice-chair.
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Ever since Ken Burnett published Relationship Fundraising (to which I made a modest contribution), I have been a passionate advocate. I worked, with my team, to make NSPCC a donor-led charity. We did a lot. But I was very busy, and it was only when I retired from NSPCC, and had more time to think, that I realised how much we were missing.

What I feel I can bring to the Commission is experience of what we did, and a, partial, understanding of what we didn’t do, but could do. I think I have an analytical mind. I would like to bring a total focus on delivering something transformational, and widely read, written about, and talked about. An output that is practical, and helps fundraisers, as well as others within charities, including trustees and CEOs, understand what needs to be done differently to put the donor experience at the centre of our work.

Beth Breeze

Director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent at Canterbury
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It has always struck me as illogical that most people admire and appreciate the work of charities, yet simultaneously feel uneasy about - or even positively dislike - those who raise the funds that keep those beloved charities going. The UK is a generous country but few of us make unprompted donations. Research shows that the main reason we give is because we are asked. And when we are asked well, and thanked sincerely, and feel good about the experience of being a donor, then we give again and give more generously.

The job of fundraising involves far more than the name implies: they don’t just ‘raise funds’, they shine a light on needs we might not otherwise have known about, they relieve our sense of helplessness in the face of suffering by showing how we can help, and they turn our altruistic sentiments into meaningful action. In our increasingly individualised society, it is fundraisers who nurture, encourage and facilitate acts of generosity to strangers.

So I am glad to be a member of the Commission, working alongside such talented and experienced colleagues. I will be able to share the ever-expanding academic knowledge about philanthropy, charity and fundraising that is increasingly a focus of the global academic community in which I work. And most of all, I hope to help restore the public’s faith in fundraising as a respectful and respectable profession.

Daphne Clarke

Donor and campaigner

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I am delighted that an opportunity to be part of the whole rethink on charity giving has been offered to me.I was receiving large numbers of letters from charities I had never contacted. One month, I decided not open any letters, just to stock-pile them. I received 135 envelopes.

The problem does not lie, primarily, with people's unwillingness to give to charity but with the sheer volume of the 'attack'. Enclosing an array of unwanted 'gifts' with their appeal is counterproductive, which seems to have by-passed the organisers. As an ordinary, caring giver, I don’t wish to spend hours sifting through unwanted gifts.

There has to be a more directed approach if kindly people are not to be turned off giving altogether. Without the goodwill of the public, many, many needy causes will be unable to give invaluable help to desperate situations.

So the invitation to appear on BBC’s 'The One Show' to discuss the activities of the whole charity-giving sector was most welcome. As is the chance to serve on the Commission on the Donor Experience. 

Grant Leboff

Contemporary marketing visionary and author.
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With the development of the world wide web, cloud computing, broadband and mobile technology we live in a world where communications are fundamentally changing. Today, everyone owns a channel and has been empowered with access to vast amounts of information. The result is that many of the traditional paradigms which were held by marketers, communication experts and fundraisers alike are now obsolete.

I am passionate about challenging traditional sales and marketing conventions and ensuring organisations have communications fit for the challenges facing them today. Having previously been approached by a few charities, to assist them in creating potent messages and effective fundraising strategies, I am now delighted to be working with the Commission on the Donor Experience. I believe many of the issues that the charity sector has encountered, over the last few years, is due to the myriad of new realities that it faces in a digital world. I am excited to be able to contribute and, in a small way, assist a sector that does such a tremendous amount of good and enriches us all

Harpreet Kondel

Former deputy director of fundraising at Barnardo’s and trustee of RoSPA.
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I am firmly of the belief that the act of donors giving to charity, should be a fulfilling one. Quite simply, Donors are critical to the success of charities achieving their aims, without them, most charities would have to wind up pretty quickly. Ultimately, by nurturing donors, charities can create mutually rewarding relationships, which will stand the test of time.

Charities spend a great deal of time and effort to ensure that their beneficiaries’ needs are met, but rarely do we apply the same rigour to really understand why donors have chosen to support our particular cause. I do not believe that this is because fundraisers are disinterested, it is too often the case, that we are pressured into focusing on maximising short term returns on investment. Trustees and CEO’s also have to accept that longer payback periods are inevitable, and reduce the pressure on fundraisers so that they do not have to feel guilty about failing to deliver immediate returns. This in turn will free up fundraisers, to understand and focus on the needs of their Donors.

Donors, volunteers and charity staff all have one common goal, and that quite simply is to make the world a better place. I am a donor, volunteer, trustee and a member of staff in a UK charity, and the view I have of the world is often coloured by which hat I am wearing at the time. I am not unique in this experience, but I believe that this Commission can become a conduit for donors to have their say about how they support the myriad of incredibly worthy causes we have. At the same time I believe that the Commission can serve fundraisers and agencies by instilling them with much needed practical guidance on enhancing their donors’ experiences.

I believe that the Commission’s work will underpin the survival of charitable giving in the UK, and I would be delighted to use my 20 plus years’ experience as a fundraiser, donor and volunteer to input into delivering its objectives.

Kath Abrahams

Director of engagement and fundraising at Diabetes UK

Jeremy Hughes

CBE, CEO at Alzheimers Society.
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The last major revolution in thinking about how charities should understand and communicate with their donors came almost a quarter century ago with the publication of Ken Burnett’s ‘Relationship Fundraising’. It brought about a wave of change that has impacted on much, but by no means all, fundraising practice. Many still need to fully live by the ‘relationship approach’, often citing cost or constantly changing technologies as the inhibitors to truly giving supporters the information, thanks and encouragement they need. And whilst techniques have changed - the growth of telephone and social media fundraising to name two – there has been little looking afresh at the needs of today’s donors.

This Commission will reassess, from the perspective of the donor, how charitable need relates to the potential giver. It can replace media headlines as the driver of fundraising practice by developing a clear line of sight between how good it feels to give; how a charity delivers that gift in the most efficient possible way; and how “beneficiaries” – be they people, pets or planets and anything in between – have a better time because of it. Protecting our donors’ rights to privacy, to choice, and to seeing the difference they make, can be set alongside the right to play their part in changing the world. Through the Commission there is an opportunity to engage better with the generation who make up so many of today’s charity supporters but who increasingly may find themselves in vulnerable personal or financial circumstances. And, just as importantly, it can bring a new look at how people of working age can be understood better so that they can take the baton of the UK’s enviable track record of charitable giving.

Laila Takeh

Digital strategy senior manager, Monitor Deloitte.
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In fundraising there’s been a focus on negatives recently but it’s been proven that if you focus on the bright spots this encourages more good practice. I believe the work that the Commission will do is critical to amassing bright spots that can lead the way to what genuinely makes donor experiences friction free and delightful for everyone involved.

I’ll be contributing my many years of charity and digital expertise. I’ve seen supporters’ expectations change as the media landscape has changed and digital tools have become common, yet I’m still seeing many charities not thinking about these factors. With my experience of leading transformation I’ll be ensuring the work of the commission includes this thinking.

Lucy Siegle

A journalist specialising in environmental issues for the Observer Group and the BBC.
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In common with many journalists I collided with this issue in May 2015. I had previously looked at the ethics of fundraising from a social justice point of view, but this time it was no longer theoretical.

When the debate reached its zenith, I found the response from the charity sector to be mixed. Sometimes the need for reform was cast by the sector as being hyperbolic, a press obsession, a knee-jerk response. It wasn’t. At the One Show we worked on listening to our viewers. Had they been directly affected by adverse and inappropriate fundraising approaches (‘asks’)? Overwhelmingly, yes. Did they want action? Again, overwhelmingly, yes. Were they confused by the current measures in place to protect them? Absolutely.

But at the same time I was struck by how much our viewers valued and wanted to support and give to charity.

I have joined the Commission because I want to represent the tens of thousands of people who contacted us and others who find themselves in this invidious position: wanting to support charities, and feeling very close to certain charities, but alienated by the current fundraising system. I am confident that given the immense expertise and innovation in the sector, that the Commission can work to find solutions.

Rachel Hunnybun

Director of client relationships, DonorVoice.
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Relationship fundraising and donor experience has always made very easy, common sense to me, however after many years as a practising fundraiser, it has been very clear that sometimes the easiest things are the hardest to achieve!

As a long term regular donor myself, I have often been frustrated with the experience I have been given by the charities I support, especially in comparison to relationships with commercial organisations who are constantly investing in improving customer experience and putting the customer at the heart of their business models.

I have enjoyed various roles within a wide variety of organisations - from sector suppliers to national, regional and local charities as well as an international charity, and now with Sweetpea Charity. Throughout each of my roles I have always championed donor centric fundraising and have first-hand experience, gained at varying levels of seniority, of the challenges and barriers fundraisers face when trying to change culture and practices to really put the donor at the heart of fundraising.

I believe that The Commission for the Donor Experience will pave the way and give very solid and practical support to fundraisers and charity management to make the significant changes that the sector needs to really value our donors. As a practising fundraiser, I hope to bring my experience and realistic insight of the support fundraisers need to my role on the commission.

Tim Hunter

Director of fundraising, Oxfam.
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I came into the voluntary sector because I want to be part of changing the world. I felt there was too much suffering, too much loneliness, too much lost potential in this world and it just wasn't right. Supporters of the many thousands of charities in the UK in their own way, with their own motivations and priorities also want to make the world a better place. We all also want to feel good about ourselves in playing our little part in making difference. However, too often the experience of one's interaction with charities and non-profits falls short – sometimes far short - of what you would want and this jars deeply with the original motivations that led to an initial donation.

In my mind the Commission is about re-connecting with these core drivers of why people support causes and people's desire to make the world a better place. We need to put ourselves firmly in the shoes of the donor and walk down the path with their experiences and their perspectives. There will be many challenges and there are many competing tensions - clarion calls for lower overheads and more money spent on the cause, the need for more professionalism and lower salaries in the same breath. The job of the Commission will be to chart a route which shows in very practical ways how walking in the shoes of the donor is the best long tern strategy, not simply a sound bite.

Fundraising is under attack. Sometimes with justification, often unfairly. However, we must recognise that the world in which charities operate has changed due to massive technological and societal change, with shifts in what people want, accept and tolerate. I hope the Commission acts as a crucible for the latest ideas and insights that will help fundraisers now and in the future to create interactions with donors and potential donors that unleash their motivation to change the world for the better.

Vibeke Ulmann

Managing partner at specialist PR company Catalyst Communications.
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I am a specialist in communications and business development. I am a private fundraiser for a small cancer research charity – Against Breast Cancer. Prior to that, I was privately fundraising for ShelterBox and Children with Leukaemia. Having experienced first -hand how smaller charities are able to engage with their fundraisers and donors and their ability to enlighten the donors on the work they are contributing to, I see the work of the Commission as a key initiative to create a set of benchmarks that all charity fundraising should adhere to.

The people of the UK have time and again shown their willingness to donate to charities and making special efforts when disasters have struck around the world. But their individual generosity has often been overlooked, in the quest for raising even more funds for charities. I am, therefore, eager to ensure that donors get a better appreciation of how their donations are used, and that they get a real sense that the funds they’re donating, are put towards the cause close to their hearts.

Self-regulation is always a better approach than having legislation enforced on you. Especially for charity fundraising we need to ensure that the way we approach individuals and organisations for donations is acceptable to the communities and the individuals we are relying on for funds.