It is widely known that public sector spending cuts are having a damaging impact on many charities' incomes. But are individual donations mitigating the effect? Cancer Research UK, Britain's biggest fundraising charity, cited strong individual giving as a key reason for a recent increase in its annual income to £515m. We asked six other charities whether donations from the public had been better than expected over the past 12 months, and what they thought was in store for fundraising over the next year. The responses suggest that charities have been pleasantly surprised by how well giving has held up in the economic downturn but are cautious about whether this trend will continue.
SARAH BRYAN - HEAD OF INDIVIDUAL GIVING, SALVATION ARMY
"Income from individuals has held up brilliantly in 2010/11, increasing by 13 per cent to £24m. Net income has grown slightly less, by 11 per cent. All the campaigns achieved their target or better throughout the year, and both Gift Aid and committed giving income grew. The main highlight of the year, however, was the Christmas campaign, which raised £10.8m, compared with £8.9m in 2009. The extra investment in recruitment was successful: 105,000 new donors were recruited. Our targets have increased for 2011/12 because we have to raise more from individual giving to help support our front-line services. The new donors we recruit should provide a fresh income stream and we have just had a very successful regular giving conversion campaign."
GUY UPWARD - HEAD OF DIRECT MARKETING AND LEGACIES, ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
"We are hoping to generate a year-on-year increase in income of about 12 per cent this financial year. We have even taken on more staff to cope with the increased volume of work that new projects are generating and have expanded our direct marketing activity during the past 12 months. We continue to be optimistic about revenues from our supporters. However, cold response rates in 2011 for both our raffle campaigns and our direct marketing campaigns have been significantly down on forecasts. This is a worrying trend and I can only attribute it to the lack of consumer confidence and the higher cost of living, which gives people the impression - whether it be reality or not - that they have less to spend on non-essential items, such as charitable donations."
TANYA STEELE - DIRECTOR OF FUNDRAISING, SAVE THE CHILDREN UK
"Individual giving has exceeded our expectations over the past year, with total income up by 9 per cent compared with 2010. Our supporters have stayed with us and we have had huge success recruiting new donors, both to regular giving and in emergencies. Across all our fundraising, we have seen our investment in strategic planning pay off. We are confident that we can continue to attract more individual giving support for children in the coming year."
AMANDA BRINGANS - DIRECTOR OF FUNDRAISING, MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT
"Individual giving has performed well over the past 12 months, with income increasing by more than 3.5 per cent despite a difficult economic climate. Cancer is a mass-market proposition. With the number of people affected by cancer increasing each day, we are finding there is widespread backing for our support services. We are optimistic about a strong performance in individual giving over the next 12 months but are mindful of the economic climate and of the effects of the spending cuts on our supporters' disposable income."
VIRGINIE KAN - INDIVIDUAL GIVING MANAGER, RSPCA
"Individual giving income grew marginally in 2010, by 4.1 per cent, with our concerted efforts to encourage gifts from our existing supporters and to keep pushing the recruitment of new donors. In real terms, the percentage growth in net income achieved double figures because of cost efficiencies. It may be that we will see a dip in the value of donations in light of the uncertain economic recovery. However, to maintain income levels, we are looking to market new products as well as define and forge stronger relationships."
JEMMA FRASCELLA - HEAD OF SUPPORTER MARKETING, RSPB
"Over the past 12 months, we have been careful to adapt our marketing plans to minimise the impact of the economic climate on income, and results have been positive. Overall income from individuals grew by 4 per cent, driven by improving retention rates, which were up 1 per cent overall and 3 per cent for those in their first year of membership.
The past year was also our second best-ever for member recruitment, while income from membership upgrades, community fundraising and new initiatives, such as a weekly lottery, continued to grow. We are planning for more growth while keeping a watchful eye on how the economy fares. Our strategy of continuing to invest in membership recruitment, despite the economic downturn, has so far paid off."
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