John Whitehead: charities must be smart with insight to compete

John Whitehead
is a bit of a super star.

He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the biz like Saatchi & Saatchi and Air Miles, he was a founding member of the Institute of Direct Marketing, and later his career led him to the fundraising sector where he has made a tremendous difference working with charities including Liveability, the National Trust and most recently as Insight Manager at WaterAid.

John is also the 2013 winner of the IoF Insight in Fundraising – Outstanding Contribution Award.

We asked him why he feels it’s important for charities to recognise the power of insight and the profession that is fast becoming a driving force behind fundraising and he says:

Last year I was delighted and surprised to receive a special award from my peers for my contribution to insight in fundraising.

The Insight in Fundraising Special Interest Group grew out of a previous analysis group when we realised that analysis needs to be complemented by supporter intelligence and research to be fully successful.

Some years ago I worked within the planning departments of a couple of advertising agencies.  We used to say that the role of the planner was to represent the voice to the public.  I think that the same is a key role of insight in fundraising.

We should be continually asking ourselves: who are the people who are prepared to give any share of their money to charity and what are their motivations?  When faced with the plethora of competing charities out there, why should the public buy into our cause, respond to our fundraising offer and buy into our brand?  Who are our target supporters and what are they looking for?  What are the most profitable ways of engaging them with our charity’s fundraising?

As well as requiring market intelligence and research to answer these specific questions, charities sit on an untold wealth of data about their existing donors, and to unlock this information you need analysis.  Together, research and analysis deliver insight, and insight enables.

More and more fundraisers are explicitly recognising that they operate in a competitive environment and that charities are competing with each other for a share of a fairly finite pool of money.  The minority of charities that will reach the ambitious fundraising goals, that all charities share, will be the smartest… they will be the ones that use insight.”


IoF Insight in Fundraising Awards 2014SIG Awards & headline sponsor logo

3rd June, Central London


This year the awards dress code is Black Tie, but dark lounge suits are acceptable :-)

NEED HELP?  For further help and information about the Insight in Fundraising Awards 2014 please contact either Jenny Turner, SIG Communications Lead on or Kathy Allen, Event Manager on