The Institute of Fundraising publish guide on prospect research and major donor fundraising

IoF logo

12 March 2018

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF), the professional membership body for charity fundraisers, has published a new guide today, ‘Connecting People to Causes: A Practical Guide to Fundraising Research’ in partnership with leading charity sector advisors Bates Wells Braithwaite and expert fundraising consultancy More Partnership.

The guide, launched today at the IoF’s major donor conference, is an important and practical resource to help charities understand how they can lawfully undertake major donor fundraising and prospect research on existing and potential new supporters. Following enforcement action from the ICO last year, and with the sector preparing for GDPR, this guidance will help fundraisers understand the lawful bases for processing data, and ensure they are treating people fairly and lawfully as they go about their major donor fundraising and prospect research work.

The guide will cover key topics and questions raised on major donor fundraising and the processing of data, including how charities can use publicly available information to help them better understand their donors, how and when to provide privacy notices to donors, and how to undertake legitimate interest balancing exercises. The information is freely accessible and will help charity fundraisers and researchers across all sectors (including university and arts and cultural organisations).

This guide will help fundraisers understand the law, outline the processes to go through, and provide confidence and reassurance for successful major donor fundraising and prospect research in the future.  

Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy & Research at the Institute of Fundraising, said:

“We know that all fundraisers want to do the right thing and ensure their work is done according to the law and to the highest standard. The issues around major donor fundraising and prospect research have been ‘hot topics’ over the last year, and we are delighted to have worked with BWB and More Partnership on this new guide which will help support fundraisers go about their work with confidence and success.”

Lawrie Simanowitz, Partner, at Bates Wells Braithwaite, said:

“This guide addresses in a clear and accessible way, one of the most challenging areas of regulation for charity fundraisers – how to comply with data protection law when researching donors.  It is an area that has recently become fraught with uncertainty, and BWB has been delighted to assist the IoF in producing this route map through this tricky area.”

Adrian P Beney MInstF, Partner at More Partnership, said:

“More Partnership is delighted to have contributed to this important IoF guidance on Major Gifts Fundraising.  This type of fundraising is founded on a respectful relationship between donor and charity, and so together we have tried to find a path which respects both GDPR and normal human relationships.”

The IoF’s guide ‘Connecting People to Causes: A Practical Guide to Fundraising Research’, in partnership with Bates Wells Braithwaite and More Partnership, is available at


For further information please contact or on 020 7840 5493.

Notes to editors: 

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) is the professional membership body for UK fundraising. We support fundraisers through leadership and representation; best practice and compliance; education and networking; and we champion and promote fundraising as a career choice. We have over 6,000 individual members and over 575 organisational members who raise more than £9 billion in income for good causes every year.

Bates Wells Braithwaite is a professional services consultancy, combining a top legal practice with services in impact measurement, outcomes-based planning and strategy, and financial services regulatory compliance. The firm works with a wide range of clients, large and small, across a variety of sectors – from established businesses, charities and social enterprises and public bodies to innovative start-ups and high-profile individuals.

More Partnership exists to advance great ambitions. We are a fundraising consultancy whose work spans education, the arts, health, science, international development, the environment and more. We help set direction, understand opportunity, evaluate performance and provide clients with the practical training and the advice they need to make change happen.