News & Blog
It is amazing how a capital appeal can galvanise donors into action compared with ongoing revenue appeals.
I recently came across a church that is struggling to cover its monthly revenue needs of around £33,000. Despite regular updates and appeals to its members, monthly donations have remained flat for some time, as wages fail to keep up with inflation. A number of projects have been put on hold as a result.
I recently interviewed an academic about an ambitious appeal he plans to launch. He has already had some good successes in attracting funding (and he would claim not to be a fundraiser), so I was interested to know how he had done it.
The influence of organisational culture on fundraising is an issue rarely discussed in our sector. Whether you are raising funds in a major hospital or a small disability charity, the culture in which you operate will to a large extent define and determine how you operate, as well as the limits of what you can and cannot do. In other words, your success as a fundraiser will in part be determined by how the culture works for or against you.
Recent weeks have seen a raft of clients renewing their contracts
with us for 2013.
At the board meeting of a charity of which I am a trustee, we signed off the accounts this week for the last financial year. Our Finance Director had been predicting a deficit for the year and had been resigned to having to dip into reserves by a small amount, when we had been hoping to break even.
It’s hard to believe it, but we are about to celebrate our 15th anniversary of helping UK charities develop strategies and raise the funds to pay for them.
In the current climate, and despite its often low ROI, community fundraising is still a great way to engage with donors and prospects, but to justify the time and effort you really need to ensure you are squeezing all the benefits from it you can.
I saw recently that the IoF is 30 years old this year - a moment perhaps to take stock? Certainly, fundraising has come a long way since the ICFM, as it then was known, was established. And so, to be fair, has the Institute.
A common demand placed on trust fundraisers is to find new prospects, which in a mature operation can often be a challenge, especially if all the usual sources have been exhausted. Yet in an increasingly competitive environment, finding new prospects to top up your lapsing donors is clearly important.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we support the charity Climate Stewards, which works to combat global warming by educating people in the West about greener lifestyles and supports communities in developing countries by planting trees to enhance their local environment, provide incomes and help the climate.
Congratulations to Sue Lidington, Chair of trustees of Side by Side Theatre Company, a Wootton George client, on her recent MBE.
In my post today was This Way magazine. Not heard of it? Nor had I, but
it’s the publication of Toyota GB, sent to 330,000 Toyota owners
nationally and inside is an excellent 2 page spread about ShelterBox,
the disaster relief charity.
New Clients [29/10/12]
We are delighted to welcome the following new clients - Lucy Air Ambulance, Cancer Relief UK, Birmingham Settlement and Futures Unlocked.
We look forward to working with them and making a difference!
As Seneca wrote, if you don't know which harbour you are heading for,
no wind is the right wind. He probably didn't have fundraising in mind,
but his quotation is strangely relevant to charity business planning
On holiday in Devon recently, I visited the famous Donkey Sanctuary.
Two things struck me. Firstly, entry was free - a great way to attract
new donors from around the country. Secondly, on the walls around the
site were huge boards naming their legacy donors, year by year. And I
mean huge! They were unmissable and listed the many hundreds of people
who have remembered this charity in their wills. So what can we learn
Tesco and some other big retailers recently came under fire for not
paying young people on work experience schemes, yet this is exactly how
some well-known charities behave when they take on unpaid interns. As a
sector, we pride ourselves on our ethical values, so where does offering
experience and CV fodder become exploitation of graduates and others in
a weak job market?
Legacy marketing can be a bit "us" and "them" can't it? We the
charity ask them the supporters for a donation, using marketing
techniques to overlay and crunch the data. We segment and target
prospects that match the best profiles and have the greatest propensity
to give. It can all seem a bit one way, impersonal and data driven. But
there is a different way.
Last month at the IoF West Midlands conference, Liz Loudon brought a
useful reminder of the importance of effective language in fundraising.
In an excellent presentation, she gave valuable tips on making an impact
with appeal writing.
Friends New and Old [7/10/11]
We would like to welcome new clients Women and Children First and the Rudolf Steiner School in Kings Langley, as well as thanking existing clients Graeae Theatre for retaining us again.
A good friend of mine is currently enduring the nightmare of sorting
out the affairs of an aged relative who has died intestate. It is the
last thing she needs and is very frustrating, as the relative in
question had been told by all around her to make a will but never did.
The shock resignation of Amanda McLean as CEO of the IoF has come at a
difficult time for the Institute, as it is also still seeking a
permanent Chair of Trustees.
Every couple of years, the tabloid media target charities that 'waste
money on fundraising and administration'. So what can you do to protect
your charity from this charge?
From 2011 Wootton George Consulting is aiming to become carbon
neutral. To support this goal, we will be planting a tree for every new
client contract we won during the year.
Most charities know about and are using Gift Aid to increase their
income from donations. However, there is one aspect of Gift Aid that is
often overlooked and which could bring in valuable additional funds to
those charities with donors who pay higher rate tax.
Over many years in working with charities on fundraising strategies, we had identified that a frequently under-exploited area was that of charitable legacies. This was particularly the case with small and medium sized charities, despite the evidence that they too can raise legacy funds, if they get it right and are prepared to invest even modest resources.
While clients were often keen to invest in other areas, such as
trusts, corporates or cash appeals, legacies were frequently left out of
the mix altogether, or given a low priority. This is despite the high
return on investment (typically 50:1), the strong average values
(currently around £35,000 for a residuary legacy and £4,000 for a cash
gift), along with the sheer scale of legacy giving in the UK, currently
around £1.9 billion per year.
In carrying out fundraising reviews over the years, we have come
across numerous charities which have really not grasped the legacy
opportunity. Yes, they may know that legacies can be good money, with a
fantastic ratio of return, but somehow they never quite get round to
planning and running a proper campaign. What is it with these people?
The recent study into donor motivations featured earlier this month
in the Chronicle of Philanthropy made for interesting - and potentially
useful - reading.
So a DM agency has identified that adding a legacy info tick box to direct mail appeals reduces the cash response rate (3rd Sector magazine 16th March). Big deal!
Of course anything you do to water down an appeal will reduce the response rate. The best results are always achieved by making it clear and direct, asking for one thing at a time, not by confusing the donor with a range of options. But then we knew that didn't we?
At a recent CSR presentation by a UK bank, I was struck by the highly commercial attitude this company is taking to its community involvement.
OK, we all know the days of cheque book corporate philanthropy are
largely behind us (and of course this is the banking sector!), but
listening to the presentation felt more like being on the end of a sales
pitch than 'how we care for the community'.
As we all know, fundraising has its risks and so it is important for
Fundraising Managers and CEO's to be aware of these and take action to
mitigate them. So what are the main risks and what can be done about
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