Practical Action’s commitment to our supporters

September 2nd, 2015

Practical Action is a charity with a difference. We believe in local solutions that can grow to scale, people centred development, sharing every ounce of our knowledge so the maximum benefit accrues (helping others to share their experience too) and working to help end poverty and protect our planet.

We are also different in our approach to fundraising.

Practical Action supporter servicesI’ve been Marketing and Communications Director at Practical Action for 15 years – I’m told that sticking around in such a post for so long is rare – but each year as I’ve learnt yet more about Practical Action’s work my enthusiasm has grown. Normally I talk about our projects on the ground or the people I’ve met, but today I want to talk about our fundraising. I love the appeals, project updates and newsletters my team pull together. They do a great job. The team are really connected with and passionate about the work of Practical Action. I hope you can sense that in everything we communicate.

As well as sharing stories from our work we also try and listen. If you ring Practical Action (01926 634400 between 9am and 5pm) or send us a letter or email, there will be someone here able to answer your queries. Every year we run a Supporters Day where donors come together with our international directors, programme workers, etc. It’s a brilliant event with real in-depth sharing. It’s also vital for the fundraising team providing a special opportunity for them to mix with, put a face to and listen to a large group of our supporters.

We believe that in supporting Practical Action you become part of our community.

It’s for that reason that I can categorically say that during my 15 years in charge of fundraising Practical Action has never sold or shared supporter, enquirers, or other data. And our commitment to you is that we never will.

We will write to you regularly – when we last researched the frequency of our mailings we were pleasantly surprised how most people said that we had the frequency about right. On the other hand if it doesn’t work for you, just call us up and we can customise to your needs (best if you don’t request ‘no mail’ as years ago when we changed our name I met a donor who was very grumpy about not being informed, but we were keeping to the instruction not to contact her).

As a Practical Action supporter I hope you know that your contribution is invaluable to our work – however the news stories that have been in the press about other charities over recent weeks make me want to say it again.

We – the whole of Practical Action and the people we work with – value your support.  We also have a great team of fundraisers who genuinely care about what we do and the people who support us. Our promise is to honour this joint endeavour. We will be passionate when we talk about our work – what we do, our cause, the changes you and Practical Action can make in people’s lives – are just too important, too exciting to communicate in a way that’s dull. Alongside that passion for our work our commitment in all our communications is to be fair and honest – and to listen.

And if you want to talk with me directly my email is I would love to hear from you!

2 responses to “Practical Action’s commitment to our supporters”

  1. Nicola Craddock Says:

    Well done Margaret. I know how passionate and committed you are and I am reassured by your assurances. It is a question I do get asked when asking donors or sponsors for personal information: will my details be shared/sold on? So I’m very pleased that now I can categorically say No, never!
    One question: do you use ANY third party fund-raising contractors or is all contact made by in-house staff?
    Finally, thank you and keep up the good work telling people about the amazing projects you lead and share to such good effect.

  2. Margaret Gardner Says:

    Hi Nicola
    Thank you for all your support, Our projects are amazing! Just talking with our team in Bangladesh about how our faecal sludge management work is changing lives – as its about taking proper care of poo, supplying water and through bio gas from the poo providing energy – plus some of the waste is used ultimately as compost. I was reading some tweets on the circular economy today and thought this was a great example.

    To answer your question about fundraising. Almost all of our fundraising is done by our own staff – so for example we have a dedicated support service team to answer any queries, update records, talk through mailing options, talk with supporters who would just like to hear more about our work, request literature etc. Many of the people in the supporter team have been with us for years as they too love our work.
    We create our appeals and update reports in house but use a local agency to help us design them.

    We do however use external agencies – as do nearly all charities – for some work most high profile would be our house to house fundraising. This is in part because its a specialist skill and because of the distance from our office in Rugby it makes financial sense. Even though the fundraisers are employed by an agency we provide rigorous training.

    Feel free to contact us at any time if you have a question. Conscious that fundraising is a very sensitive topic at the moment given the media coverage. We do honestly feel that our supporters are part of our Practical Action family and want them to feel the same way too. But we need to raise money to do our great work. The faecal sludge management project is now in part being funded by the Gates Foundation but all of the initial research and exploration, creating the solution and seeing how it could work with people was financed through our supporters donations – without people like you we wouldn’t be able to do our work.

    Best wishes


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