Introducing Richard Yorke

11th February by Jo Hastie

Published on


This month we are interviewing Richard Yorke who joined AAW in September 2020 as Managing Consultant and who heads up our agency arm AAW Audience, as well as working with clients on their strategy development.

Richard’s name will be familiar to many of AAW’s clients after a long and successful career at some of the UK’s top charities. Below, Richard shares a little of that background and his new role at AAW Audience.

Richard Yorke photo

Tell us about your background in fundraising

I have been in fundraising for 23 years, starting as a Legacy Marketing Assistant at the Institute of Cancer Research and then working at Officer, Head of Department and then Director level at a variety of charities. My last couple of roles were at Marie Curie where, as Head of Individual Giving, I oversaw a period of growth in Individual Giving, focused on the recruitment of regular givers. Then, six years ago, I was Director of Fundraising at Mencap.

After years working for major charities, I branched out to work on my own and to use my experience and skills to provide solutions to a wide range of organisations. I set up Pathfinder Fundraising four years ago consulting on a variety of projects for a really wide and different group of charities, as well as creative and proposition development.

Working for myself gave me an opportunity to do what I love and working with a variety of clients including Blood Cancer UK (now Bloodwise), Riding for the Disabled, Liveability, the Film and TV Charity, and ABF (The Soldier’s Charity).  Alongside the agency, I also set up a successful Face to Face fundraising company in Scotland, which is currently on pause as a result of Covid!

Tell us about the move to AAW

I had known Imogen and Tobin for a number of years before being invited to do a couple of projects with Tobin. Then in August 2020, Tobin got in touch to say AAW was merging with the fundraising and communications agency Audience and would I like to be involved? I saw this as a great opportunity to be involved with people and a company I respected and admired. And also as a chance to carry on learning more about the strange and wonderful world of fundraising!  

I now head up AAW Audience, a division that was created out of the merger of AAW with Audience – it’s our implementation arm working mainly across the UK and Ireland (but also with our international clients) and does everything that you would expect from a fundraising and communications agency, including campaign development and execution, audience insight, and research and data analysis.

I also work on specific consultancy projects which are often fundraising feasibility and fundraising strategy and development reports, and I also have a focus on driving new business for AAW.

Can you highlight some of the projects you have worked on with AAW Audience?

In the months since I have been with AAW, I have already seen the impact AAW Audience can have for our clients.

AAW Audience’s work with Operation Smile, the international medical charity, has also seen huge success in a series of appeals for their ‘Caring Never Stops’ campaign. As we detailed in our blog with Mairead O’Callaghan, Head of Individual Giving & Legacy at the charity, as a result of Covid the campaign messaging had to pivot from the charity’s usual fundraising for reconstructive surgery for children born with a cleft condition to focusing on different stories around the work they deliver to patients. This included, for example, caring for malnourished babies and children so that they would be healthy enough to have surgery, once that can safely resume.

The messaging and work by AAW Audience on segmenting Operation Smile’s supporter database, testing different prompt strategies on the appeals, and supporting the appeal with a series of emails, resulted in the appeal tripling income from a previous appeal sent at the same time last year and average gifts rising by a third.

AAW Audience’s work with the overseas disability charity CBM, testing and refining a digital strategy with them also led to an amazing acquisition campaign at the end of last year, with a very positive ROI. 

How AAW Audience can help our clients

What is important to stress, is that alongside campaign development, AAW Audience can also help you with your strategies, whether that is for supporter acquisition, engagement, or journey development.

I think that one of the things that makes AAW Audience special is the expertise of our directors, with years of experience in the sector. That means we can provide advice on strategy or planning around any creative campaign we are delivering for you, for example how a direct marketing appeal fits within your overall fundraising programme, and to help you achieve more success in the long-term.

One example is our work with the Marie Keating Foundation in Ireland where AAW Audience have created a number of fundraising campaigns for them; after chatting to them recently about my own experience with Marie Curie, the charity asked us to do a report on their fundraising potential and we are now working on a fundraising strategy for them. And for Operation Smile, we are now planning a major overarching campaign to celebrate their 20th anniversary that will run over a three-year period.

So, whilst AAW Audience can offer really great account management and creative, we also offer an analytical understanding which I think is unique in the market. We are working on strategic projects all the time, so we are very aware of what is happening in the wider fundraising world and the sector – something that I think is invaluable to our clients.