Di Flatt's Blog


Fundraising in a recession – some of the challenges …
Di Flatt

Di Flatt

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts and not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

Future challenges for fundraising

We are in turbulent times.  Changes that take place now may stay with us for many years or indeed change the face of fundraising forever in certain areas.

Whilst some organisations will just make the most of what they can at this time, for others the recession will really begin to clarify thinking.  Changes will be put in place that will lead to stronger, longer and more business like relationships between organisations (both charity and non charity) that may stay with us for the long term.

Following many discussions with my fundraising colleagues across the sector, there are certain things I feel we need to be very aware of:

Developing a fundraising ethos across the whole of our organisations, for example our procurement officers, building managers, service delivery departments – we need to be speaking to them about working with suppliers to our organisations as a source of support.  We already have a link with these organisations as purchasers of their services and goods.  Whilst often they may not be in a position to offer direct financial support this does not rule out charity of the year status and them undertaking some employee fundraising throughout the year, or indeed as a one off event.  Equally we could be advertising the charity events we are already doing to these groups.

Developing fundraising with younger people, it is imperative that we begin to reach younger people and to get them more involved in fundraising and charity support.  Some organisations are more suited to this on the large scale, such as the charities that can put on multiple mass participation events across the country (eg CRUK and Race for Life).  However smaller charities should also be looking to develop this type of thing on a local or regional basis.  A number of smaller charities working with a similar client base could work together to produce a series of mass participation events across the country thus building the brand and publicity of the event, taking it from being seen as local to national.

In the run up to 2012 and the Olympics young people will be thinking about sport.  So sport events aimed at the younger age group will hopefully prove successful.  We as charities need to capitalise on the events that are already happening around us and the Olympics is a prime example of something we should be tapping into as a resource for ideas.

Corporate support, is changing by the day right now. CSR has developed significantly over recent years but many charities do not seem to have taken this on board.  Particularly some of the smaller, regional charities.  We are in a recession and we need to build relationships with corporate organisations in a different way to how it has been approached previously.  CSR is no longer about philanthropy.  We need to be looking at this in terms of corporate engagement and not as pure fundraising.

Some charities I have spoken to still seem to be seeking funding and gifts in kind as their first option with corporates.  Yet this is the last thing the corporates I speak to are looking for right now.  They don’t have the budgets for donation giving any more.

It is important that charities take on board the corporate position and quickly.  If we do not change then we will risk ruining any chance of engagement with corporates as they will just begin (and some already do) their own charitable events and support things directly and not through current charities.

It is imperative that we look at what corporate organisations need.  They are not looking to just hand out funding any more.  We need to put things on a direct business to business relationship.  The things that corporates are looking for right now, and in this order are:

  • A fit with their corporate objectives.
  • A fit with their brand.
  • Staff involvement – good for morale and PR.
  • Networking.
  • Are we campaigning for the same or similar goals or objectives.
  • Charity of the year is still there, but the emphasis is on employee fundraising.
  • Match giving to events staff participate in – but again there is less of this at present and it is at the bottom of their preference list.

Only then will they look at gifts, direct funding etc.  We need to be building good strong business to business partnerships.  I think these types of partnerships will work better, and be stronger.  I also believe this will change the face of corporate fundraising for the long term – if this works well then why would the corporate wish to go back to the old way.

It is no longer a case of ‘what we want from you’ it is now a case of:

‘What can we do for each other?’ and ‘What can we achieve together?’

There will be more demand for co-branding recognition – corporates will want to be seen to be partnering with charities.

This may shift from being always the big well known charities to showing that they are willing to work with more local/regional or niche charities.  From discussions I have had with some corporates there is a perception that some of the big charities have enough income falling through the door each day, so perhaps it is time for them to spread their support at this time of economic downturn.

Of course being realistic this is likely to be just ‘talk’ as the corporates will still want to enjoy the biggest reach and publicity – but we need to be aware of this.

Corporates are currently inundated with requests so they are spoilt for choice – if we do not change ourselves to fit into their needs then we will most definitely lose out.

Trusts and Foundations, this is a difficult area and there is much discussion about this at the moment.

Most trusts use careful risk management to ensure that if investments go down that they can continue to undertake their work with charities.

However there is much talk about trusts tightening their belts and some (even larger trusts) only continuing to give to those charities they have already committed to supporting.

From experience trusts will say this to attempt to limit the number of requests, so we should not be discouraged from at least approaching them.  However, we absolutely must go in with a very tailored approach to each trust.

The days of scatter gun approaches is long gone.  Applications must be targeted and strong, closely fitting the trust’s criteria and showing how the work requiring funding will bring about positive change.

I have seen a number of small trusts disappear this summer, certainly my own budget is missing around £30k to £40k of funding from long term funders.  Most of this is due to those trusts having to close due to the economy.

Also trusts are leaning towards supporting sustainability right now and not new developments.  Charities with decent reserves are not being funded so will become less secure themselves as time goes on.

Legacies, although some legacy income is reduced due to property sales etc being down. I believe this remains a strong area for growth.

It is not current money so people can feel secure with their day to day finances and still feel good about doing something for their charity(ies) by adding them to their will.  We need to capitalise on this.

People will not stop dying so we ignore the legacy market at our peril.  Particularly for older people who will have budget concerns right now, most especially those who rely on interest on savings etc – their charitable giving may go down – but they may be happy to transfer that life giving into a legacy.

Individual giving, in direct contrast to what I have said above – I have seen a couple of large donations to our appeals this last couple of months from quite elderly supporters who feel they should give it now and not wait – as the charity needs it now.

This is a real reflection as to how turbulent things are right now. We cannot second guess the donor.  I guess the one thing we must all remember right now is that it is never about us – it is all about the donor.

Many charities get this wrong and will continue to push the charity story – this is what we have to change.  We have to look at every individual donor (be they an individual person, a trust, a company) and look at what it is that they are seeking and develop our offerings, stories, requests around that.

It brings us right back to those wise words of ‘win –win’.  Win-win solutions are the key right now.

So what can you do?  Now this is the tough bit.  We cover all these things at conferences and at national convention – but I sometimes wonder if people really hear it.  I have suggested to the Institute of Fundraising that perhaps a series of ‘how to’ sheets could be developed.  A ‘how to fundraise in a recession’ series perhaps.

Finally – technology  is changing by the day – we are all (well many of us) now using twitter and facebook etc fairly well.  But next comes google wave – and if you haven’t read up on this then you need to.

Things are changing so quickly.  We need to be working out how we use all this technology to reach all our donors and most especially the younger donors.

Well guys – these are my thoughts for today!  Send me your thoughts and ideas and stories on the challenges we are all facing right now (to diannemflatt@hotmail.com ) and I will use them in the next piece.

Take care of yourselves – think outside of the usual boxes – and remember we will all meet failure on the way to success!

My big idea – I know some of you will be waiting for an update on ‘my next big thing’  – well hang in there.  A few meetings to go and things to organise and then all can be revealed.

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT FROM ONE BLADE OF GRASS WE CAN GROW A LAWN

Every £1 donated to charity goes towards changing someone’s life or positively changing our environment. My charity www.epilepsy.org.uk, and every charity – we need you.

KEEP ON GIVING

Di x

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Dix, I would love a chance to share an “Out of the Box” idea with you for fund raising! Would you please give me permission to give you some info? I have been able to help churches and non-profits with this, and it is amazing what has begun.
Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.
Blessings,
Herman
http://www.hermanymerritt@cctc.net
469-834-9990

Comment by Herman Merritt

Hi
you can email me at
DiFlatt@me.com
thanks
Di

Comment by Di Flatt

Some extremely good and well thought out ideas here. Thanks so much for posting!

Two points are especially intriguing: marketing toward the younger crowd in regards to the Olympics, and the mention of Google Wave. It is indeed important but also very difficult to make donors out of young people, but the impression you make on them about this fundraising opportunity and your cause may be even more important than actual contributions. And yes, the Olympics are so huge, widespread, and memorable that they become something to take advantage of.

Your mention of Google Wave simply suggests that we should not only be on top of technology but *ahead* of others — this is not something that’s always intuitive for fundraisers.

Thanks again!

Alyce
http://DonationTalk.com
http://DonationTo.com

Comment by Donation To




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