Business as usual a low priority for fundraising charities, survey finds

A survey of 100 charities by the Institute of Fundraising finds that more than half see innovation and finding new methods as priorities

Fundraising For Impact
Fundraising For Impact

Just 35 per cent of charities say their fundraising focus is on business as usual, according to an Institute of Fundraising survey of 100 charities.

The Fundraising For Impact report, compiled by the IoF and the accountancy firm PwC, says charities need to be adaptive and resilient in response to political and economic uncertainty – and many charities seem to be aware of this.

The survey, which looked at small, medium and large charities found that more than half of them (53 per cent) said they had made innovation and finding new fundraising methods a key priority, and 63 per cent named improving their relationships with existing supporters.

Eighty-seven per cent said investing in exploring new fundraising activities was important or very important to them.

"The backdrop of disruption looks set to continue, with political and economic uncertainty continuing, public expectations changing and digital technology transforming what’s possible," the report says. "Charities need to be adaptive and resilient in response."

But the report adds that the way charities reach and engage with supporters is changing.

"It seems that fundraising charities have taken a view that business as usual may not be a sustainable approach and embarked on a journey to take on new approaches and embrace a culture of change," it says.

Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of charities said their investment in new fundraising activities and programmes or growing existing programmes had increased in the past three years.

Among the challenges the charities identified, the most common were uncertainty about the economy and donors’ disposable income, named by 79 per cent of respondents, and the increased costs of carrying out fundraising activity, cited by 70 per cent.

Eighty-six per cent of charities said the costs of compliance had increased over the past three years, and 83 per cent said workforce costs had increased.

But despite concerns about the future, 74 per cent of charities said they believed there would be growth of 10 per cent or more in individual giving over the next three years and 75 per cent thought there would be an increase in digital engagement, although the report points out this could be because the existing level of digital giving is low so there is big potential for growth.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: "Fundraisers know that the success of fundraising goes beyond the pound that is donated: it is about the relationships that are created between the cause, the charity and the supporters that will deliver long-term success.

"Increased costs and economic uncertainty lead to a challenging environment, but I’m pleased to see that more charities are putting in place strong foundations and building blocks that will deliver for their causes into the future."

Aidan Sutton, partner and head of charities at PwC, said he was heartened by the sense of positivity and optimism from respondents.

"Improving the experience of existing supporters and attracting new ones are, quite rightly, seen as key priorities, and building deep, authentic relationships will be at the heart of this," he said.

"Focusing on creating a great supporter experience means a shift in mindset away from a traditional measure of financial return on investment and towards a return on experience."

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