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Building Fundraising Teams for the New Normal

Building Fundraising Teams for the New Normal

As we start to look beyond Covid-19 and plan for life in the new normal (whatever that will be), a lot of charities will be rethinking what their fundraising team should look like and whether their existing capacity and skill sets are the right ones to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities they will face.

In 2020, there has been a lot of blood letting, with redundancies in numerous charities, including in fundraising teams. Sadly, most of this seems to have been driven just by cost cutting and not necessarily by a considered, strategic view of future needs. In other words, it has sometimes been a short-term expedient and not part of a long term plan.

Time to Rebuild

Now with, we hope, the worst behind us, there is a chance to plan again for the future, in the expectation that, perhaps by Summer 2021, most areas of fundraising will be operating again (if not yet always at previous levels). Clearly, fundraising cannot begin at full tilt on day one and much planning will be needed for certain activities, especially in areas such as community or event fundraising.

The growth in digital, which has been accelerated by Covid-19, will certainly be part of the new normal and so charities will need to ensure they have the skills required to drive this.

Review Your Opportunities First

So where should a charity begin when considering restructuring its fundraising team? Any new staffing structure and role planning needs to be evidence based. In other words, it should be done in the light of the opportunities the charity has in future to raise funds and be tailored to these. It should resist the temptation of starting with its existing team and making do. Clearly, it is vital to keep good people if you can and especially where there are clear roles for them. But a team should be built on identified needs not on personalities or length of service. Sometimes, it may be necessary to let someone go whose skill set no longer fits what will be required in future.

The place to start is therefore with a review of the charity’s future fundraising opportunities and an assessment of what can realistically be raised across a wide range of areas (such as individual giving, trusts, corporate etc). This then forms the basis of planning your team.

Finding The Right People

Once you know what skills you need, the next challenge is to find good people, which has been a challenge for many years, especially outside London. So how can you look to fill the roles you have set out?

Obviously, the first route for most roles is permanent recruitment, either by advertising or by using an agency. There are pros and cons with both. It is generally cheaper to do it yourself, but a good recruitment agency will often find a better field of candidates.

Where you really cannot find the right person (and this is often the case), what are your other options?

One option is to grow your own fundraisers, in other words to train up people with transferable skills and the ability to succeed. This does, however, take time and some budget and those being trained will take longer to make an impact than people who are already skilled to go.

Another alternative is to use a freelancer or consultancy on an interim basis to fill gaps. They can also be used to launch new areas of fundraising before you recruit permanent staff. Some charities also use them as long-term members of the fundraising team, providing flexibility and widening the skill mix.

For some roles, it may be possible to achieve results using volunteers, depending on which area of fundraising is involved. However, in reality this is really a last resort.

Help is at Hand

If you need to talk through your staffing needs and options, do call 01903 723519 for a free chat. Or email

There is further information here about interim support and more here about opportunities reviews.

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