The hospice movement is one of the UK’s biggest-charity success stories. Since the 1960s it has transformed care for dying people and their families in a hugely successful model of compassionate care that has been replicated in countries throughout the world.
Today, charitable hospices provide vital support to 200,000 people with terminal and life-limiting conditions each year and collectively raise about £1bn a year from their local communities.
Hospices, like many other charities, are operating in a tough fundraising environment and face some challenges. Hospice fundraising has come a long way since the 1960s, but a recent column by Stephen Pidgeon revealed a rather outdated view of hospice fundraisers. Contrary to what he suggested, hospice fundraisers do not work in isolation. In recent years there has been a marked increase in instances of hospices joining forces across different regions for fundraising initiatives.
For example, last year hospices in Sussex teamed up to generate funds and increase awareness about hospice care during Hospice Care Week. The London Hospices Choir launched a successful Christmas single with a cover of The Living Years. And children’s hospices across London came together for a successful fundraising partnership with the City-based asset-management company BlackRock, raising more than £840,000 for the five hospices involved.
In a similar vein, more and more hospices are working together on joint lottery schemes to achieve greater reach and economies of scale. And, despite what Pidgeon claimed, Hospice UK has done a great deal to promote good fundraising among its members. We represent more than 200 hospices, and our role centres on providing strategic support to our members, facilitating learning, good practice and knowledge-sharing. Through our Capacity-Building in Income Generation programme, we have run fundraising benchmarking exercises to enable hospices to compare performance, run a wide range of conferences, master-classes and events on fundraising, and produced numerous resources for hospice income generators.
We have also developed a knowledge hub called Hospice IQ, where hospices can view and share resources and take part in online forum discussions – it has proved very valuable for our members.
We recently partnered with several hospices for a very successful BBC Lifeline appeal, which has raised vital funds for hospice care and greatly helped to increase public awareness about the wide range of care that hospices provide.
Finally, over recent months we have been working on a new national fundraising campaign – the pilot will launch later this year – that will produce high-quality fundraising materials for hospices to use.
The hospice movement, which is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this year, is already looking ahead to the next 50 and how we can open up hospice care to even more people. Hospice fundraisers will be crucial to making that happen and we will be supporting them every step of the way.
Catherine Bosworth is director of income generation at Hospice UK