Home Fundraising lost almost £200k in year to March last year

According to its accounts, the country's largest door-to-door agency by turnover lost £197,315, which adds to a loss of £147,052 the previous year

Door-to-door fundraising
Door-to-door fundraising

This article has been corrected; please see final paragraph

Home Fundraising posted a loss of almost £200,000 in the year to March 2016, the second year in a row the door-to-door fundraising agency has lost money.

According to its most recent accounts, filed with Companies House this month, the agency incurred a loss of £197,315 last year, having previously lost £147,052  in the year to March 2015.

The turnover of the company, which is the largest door-to-door agency serving the sector by annual turnover, grew slightly from £20.3m in 2015 to £21.1m last year.

The accounts say: "Trading conditions were significantly affected by external factors, specifically negative media coverage of a range of issues relating to charities, including fundraising during the year.

"Following significant restructuring of the business model and substantial enhancements across all areas of the operation during 2015/16, the directors now expect to see a significant improvement in performance and a return to profitability during 2016/17."

The accounts also say that £2.9m was owed to creditors at the time when the accounts were filed.

Dominic Will, managing director of Home Fundraising, told Third Sector last year that he had not seen such a significant decline in the number of people signing up as donors in all his time in fundraising.

He said at the time that some people did not want to engage with door-to-door fundraisers and appeared more sceptical than in the past, which he attributed to the increased media scrutiny and trustee caution around fundraising.

Third Sector has previously reported that charities including Oxfam and Save the Children withdrew their custom from the agency in 2015/16.

Will told Third Sector today that only a tiny proportion of donors had been more reluctant to donate, but this had had a big impact on profits in the year to March 2016 because the agency had a slim profit margin.

He said the loss in the year to March 2015 occurred because the agency had invested in making significant changes to its core product offering in order to improve the return on investment for clients.

Will said the restructuring of the business had consisted of devising new training and support programmes for all its fundraisers and team leaders, and better monitoring and analysing of its performance. He said the agency was now retaining more of its staff.

He said donor retention rates had also improved since the summer of 2015 and confirmed that the agency was expecting to report a healthy although not significant profit for the year to March 2017. He said he was hopeful that the environment for fundraising would settle down as organisations got to grips with the new regulations they are facing.

Will said the amount owed to creditors was constantly changing and the company had been spending large sums at the time it filed its accounts becasue this coincided with the time of year when it recruited new staff.

According to data from the Public Fundraising Association, which is now part of the Institute of Fundraising, doorstep fundraising revenue across the sector declined from an estimated £83m to £70m in the year to March 2016.

- The article was updated because the figures originally referred to the wrong year

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