“Fail to plan = plan to fail”. This applies especially to fundraising, where the sustainability of an organisation depends not on short term actions, but on a planned and sustained effort to maximise funding opportunities over time.
This is all the more true in today’s competitive environment and economic conditions. While there will always be pressure on organisations to fundraise today, it is essential also to maintain activities that raise funds in the medium and longer term. How this will be achieved should be laid out in an agreed fundraising strategy, which sets achievable objectives and identifies future sources of funds, as well as how these funds will be raised, what resources will be needed (in terms of people, information and budgets) and how progress will be monitored.
In larger organisations, the fundraising strategy will of course be more lengthy and detailed, but in essence serves the same purpose of setting out an agreed path to follow, identifying the resources to deliver it and enabling the organisation to measure progress against objectives. The content of the fundraising strategy will vary considerably between organisations and, for example, depend on whether you are planning to raise revenue or a major capital sum. However, the principals are the same and even a basic fundraising strategy is better than no strategy at all.
Brexit and Fundraising Strategy
The full impact of Brexit on UK charities and their fundraising strategies is still unclear. However, there are already some clear implications that charities need to take into account when planning their fundraising, particularly in relation to specific income streams.
For example, we know for certain that EU funding (such as ESF, ERDF and various research funds) will disappear. The timescales for this are still unclear, although it is likely that existing commitments will be honoured in the short term. Brexit campaigners pledged to protect some EU payments until 2020, but only time will tell if this is honoured or not.
More clear is the impact on individual giving, which could be severe, due to the potential fall in Sterling and the impact on investment, which will affect pensions and jobs and - crucially – how donors feel. Sentiment is key. There may well be a loss of consumer confidence, as in the last recession, so if a charity relies heavily on cash appeals and discretionary donations, it may well be hit hard. Probably less affected will be those charities with a stronger base of committed givers. They are likely to keep giving unless their jobs disappear or their pensions are badly hit.
If the Remain prediction of a fall in house prices comes true (and obviously we will not know for some time), this will also have a knock-on effect on legacy values, so legacy your forecasting needs to err on the side of caution.
For charities that rely significantly on corporate partnerships, the question is whether these are companies that may decide to downsize or relocate to the EU as a result of Brexit. There have already been reports of companies looking to move jobs out of the UK. In most cases, however, the impact on corporate partnerships will not be immediate, so any existing partnerships will not be directly affected in the short term. However, this is likely to impact on future corporate relationships, so longer term budgeting needs to be conservative.
The impact on trusts and foundations is so far hard to call. They mostly receive income from investments (property, stocks and shares, gilts, bonds and cash). In the short term, we do not expect to see a significant fall in their income. However, if the UK has to go it alone longer term, without full access to the single market, low interest rates and falling company profits will not boost their income, so we could expect trust giving to be flat or possibly decline over time. It is hard to see it growing but, as with legacies, this will be one area to watch.
Time to Act
So what should you do now? The key action is to review your fundraising strategy and identify the likely impact on each income stream in the short, medium and longer terms. If you are over-reliant on sources that are in jeopardy, then you will need to diversify your funding base and seek out growth areas to compensate for those that are stagnating or declining.
If you need support or advice to plan your fundraising strategy, please call us for a free discussion on 01785 663600.