Church defends appointment of Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood as fundraising advisor


The Church of England has defended its lead fundraising advisor after his approach to increasing donations was called into question. 

Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood previously worked as the Generous Giving Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford before being appointed in January as the Church of England's National Advisor for Giving and Income Generation.

While at Oxford Diocese, Mr de Bernhardt Wood helped to implement the Parish Giving scheme, a direct-debit system developed by the Diocese of Gloucester to replace the more burdensome envelope method of church giving.

However, it is his views on fundraising outlined in his 2007 book, Porcupine Principle, that have come under fire in The Telegraph

The article quotes excerpts from his book in which he advocates "fundraising through forgetfulness" and describes standing orders as "God's special gift to fundraisers" because people "often forget to stop them". 

In another excerpt, he is quoted as admitting that one charity's trustees were "appalled" when he suggested fundraisers should "target those most vulnerable to our fundraising message", such as "single, elderly, poor females". 

Wendy Cocks, vice-chairman of the charity Christians on Ageing, told The Telegraph: "Forgetfulness should never be a way to make money." 

She said that although she understood the need for the Church to increase donations, it "needs to act with caution". 

"It feels like the Church has resorted to chugging," she said.

"Older people are especially vulnerable to this sort of thing. If they become unwell then they need their financial resources to pay for care. We can't allow people's cash to drain out of their bank account." 

A spokesperson for the Church of England told The Telegraph that senior staff had been "aware" of Mr de Bernhardt Wood's views when they appointed him. 

In a separate statement to Christian Today, a Church of England spokesperson added: "Christians are called to give to their church communities, whether financially or through giving up their time or using their talents. This stewardship helps Christians to connect with their faith in a tangible way and to live out the Gospel.

"As National Advisor, for Giving and Income Generation, Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood leads a team who advise, support and encourage giving in parishes throughout the Church of England. This work helps to further the mission and ministry of God's church."