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Tackling Key Constraints in Fundraising

Tackling key constraints in fundraising

In any fundraising operation, there will be a number of key constraints, in other words, things that hold you back from achieving more. These are one of the things we look for when conducting a review of a charity’s fundraising. They can often relate to such things as:

  • The fundraising budget
  • Staff numbers, skills and experience
  • What relationships are in currently place with donors and prospective donors, including the scale of the support base
  • The quality of data available to inform fundraising
  • The strengths or otherwise of the case for support
  • A shortage of projects or funding needs are available to present to donors
  • The state of the charity’s accounts
  • The strength of leadership and internal support for fundraising
  • The lack of a fundraising culture within the organisation
  • The charity’s external image (and especially if there has been any bad publicity recently)
  • Make a plan

    Clearly, each of these will impact negatively on fundraising results and will often be identified when conducting the fundraising SWOT. The good news, however, is that most can be addressed if the understanding, will and resources are there.

    As with changing the culture of an organisation, addressing your key constraints successfully will not all happen overnight, so you need to prioritise the ones that are affecting you and make a plan for how you will remove them or at least lessen their impact.

    Talk about them

    Once you have identified yours, start by talking about them internally, not just to the fundraising team, but to senior management and trustees if you can. Explain the impact they are making and what could be done to remove them. Try to win allies who can help you bring about change.

    Resource issues

    For example, if it is a limited budget that is holding you back, explain the impact you are already making in terms of the ratio of return and make the case for further investment by showing how a bigger budget now will translate into better results in the future. Use real figures based on standard ratios of return. This is all about educating decision-makers about the realities of fundraising. Don’t assume anyone outside fundraising will know about the ROI for different fundraising techniques or understand the predictable links between resources in and results out.

    Developing your case

    If your case for support is weak, think how you could strengthen it. When did you last review it? Has anything changed about the needs you are addressing or the way your charity does this? Are there any new stats you can use to demonstrate your impact? Can you get your case for support peer-reviewed? Another idea is to show it to someone outside your organisation who knows nothing about fundraising. Would they give? If not, why not and how could you improve it? Often, it is a matter of how you present information. If you need support with this, there are fundraising copywriters who can help.

    Financial engineering

    Perhaps your accounts are your main constraint? E.g. due to your turnover, your reserves or your fundraising costs. If these are not properly explained, speak to your finance team about including fundraising friendly explanations in your next set. If you really are stuck with unhelpful accounts, consider drafting a one-page summary, which addresses the tricky issues and explains them for a lay audience. This can particularly help with trusts if that is your sticking point.

    Go for it!

    For most constraints, there can be answers. Not necessarily a total fix or an immediate solution. But don’t just accept things as they are. Try to change them. Many organisations have been in a similar position and have sometimes found solutions. No one ever said fundraising would be easy, but sometimes you can make it that bit easier for yourself by tackling these issues head-on. It may take time but is better than trying to fundraise with one arm tied behind your back.

    If you need to discuss any of these issues, please call us for a free chat on 01903 723519 or email

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