Stephen Pidgeon: Reasons to be optimistic about 2011

Properly trained and motivated staff are key in fundraising, says our columnist

Stephen Pidgeon
Stephen Pidgeon

Over Christmas I read the Funding Commission's final report Funding The Future, published in early December (yeah, sad or what? - but it's a very good report and well worth reading).

This body was set up by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations to review fundraising in the decade after the recent years of plenty - the decade starting now.

Despite doomsayer predictions of a rough 2011, this report is wholly optimistic and looks for real expansion in the sector.

It bubbles with examples of fundraising initiatives already connecting with new audiences and it lays out its determination to increase individual giving from £11.3bn in 2008/09 to £20bn in 2020.

The thing I love is the radical scrutiny of what such an expansion will require. One solution is "better asking", and they don't leave responsibility for this with the fundraisers.

Trustees, chief executives, volunteers and even communications folk are highlighted for training in "how to ask". This is radical. Most of these colleagues abrogate any responsibility for asking for money - many think it's beneath them.

Which brings me to my current favourite topic - the recently launched Institute of Fundraising Academy. New qualifications have been designed, syllabuses discussed in detail and courses posted. And it all kicks off this month.

The academy is the culmination of a huge amount of work, and the professionalism it heralds will drive fundraising into the future. The Funding Commission's report encourages this academy initiative as pivotal for change.

In particular, the report encourages smaller and local civil society organisations - there are an estimated 900,000 in the UK - to improve the quality and effectiveness of their fundraising by training.

The academy's training would help staff in smaller organisations, so let's have no more whinges along the lines of "it's OK for the big charities in London". Such gripes are common at the moment and often result more from a lack of foresight and ambition in small charities than from actual training costs.

Think 'value', not 'cost', then decide if your charity would not benefit from properly trained and motivated fundraisers.

Stephen Pidgeon is chair of Tangible and the Institute of Fundraising's standards commitee

FACT FILE: A boost to individual giving

-The Funding Commission report Funding the Future says an increase in individual giving could be achieved by converting 4.7 million non-givers, which could produce an additional £8.6bn. About 22.8 million adults in the UK - 46 per cent - currently give nothing: it was 33 per cent 10 years ago.

-Increasing the amounts from higher givers - those who give more than £100 a month - by 60 per cent would contribute £9.3bn. This should be possible, says the report, because the number of people earning more than £44,000 a year has doubled from 5 per cent of taxpayers to 8 per cent over the past eight years.

-The report says the rich are getting richer but their giving is not keeping up. It says that increasing the number of philanthropists giving more than £1m a year from 290 to 465 will generate an extra £2.1bn.

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