Fundraiser of the Week: Emma Lucas of the Renewal Trust

The funding director at the Nottingham-based community regeneration charity talks research, the fundraising levy and competition for grant funding

Emma Lucas
Emma Lucas

Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?

It has changed in that there is much more competition for grant funding now. With the exception of local authority funding, I don't think funding itself has become less scarce – there are just more of us trying to get out hands on it. Corporate sponsorship has changed and is now much more of a two-way partnership rather than the corporate just giving a lump sum. The General Data Protection Regulation will also change the way that we hold into people's data, including donors, and this might have a detrimental effect on income.

What advice would you give to a new fundraiser just starting out?

Research, research, research! Get to know your funders before you apply: talk to them and ask them what they want to see. A website is all right, but you can get much more insight from a call and, if possible, a visit. Funders get much more of an insight if they can physically see what you are doing. If you don't have a project that fits their criteria, send in a small portfolio of your projects and introduce yourself without an ask. This puts you in their minds when they are revisiting their criteria, and if they like what they see they might ask for a proposal anyway.

Which fundraiser do you most admire and why?

The fundraiser I admire the most was someone that took over the corporate fundraising role at a previous charity that I worked for. She took over from someone who was not the best and it was all a bit of a mess. Promises had been made, but not met, contacts were not followed up, there was a clash of personalities on more than one occasion and, as a result, companies were withdrawing their support. The new person rebuilt these partnerships and went on to engage a further thirty-(ish) significant companies that year. She went from bringing in an income of just a few hundred pounds to managing a portfolio of companies bringing in an income of £150k as well as in-kind support. Throughout all of this she was pregnant with her first child and quite poorly, but she kept calm, worked around her pregnancy, had a healthy baby boy and returned to work to continue building relationships. She is amazing.

What do you think of the fundraising levy?

I absolutely agree that there should be some sort of regulator. Some practices by charities (such as buying and selling donor information) are unacceptable and should be regulated. Asking for a fee to pay for regulation, I'm not so sure about. I know the fee is voluntary, but some charities seem to have been invoiced for it, giving the impression that payment is mandatory. This won't affect our charity as we are too small to be considered for the levy at present, but with increasing cuts to services I am sure that this will become mandatory at some point. This could mean that charities will have to cut services to be able to pay for it. That seems inherently wrong to me.

Tell us a joke

Did you hear about the hungry clock? It went back four seconds. Sorry. Blame my kids.

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