In a dramatic turnaround, the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund has successfully averted a predicted £1 million loss for the past financial year and brought its deficit down to £200,000.
The fund suffered major fundraising setbacks following the 11 September terrorist attacks and the recent fire strikes (Third Sector, 12 March), but has fought back with a strong business plan and some tough action.
"I wouldn't say that we are out of the woods as this is a tough time for all charities, but we have fought back from our position six months ago so quickly that our future is very positive," said chief executive Roy Lawrenson. "We have a very strong business plan which in three years will place us among the top 100 charities in the UK."
The charity attributes its turnaround to a "not all eggs in one basket" approach. Since the funding crisis it has explored new donor markets, run donor recruitment direct mail campaigns and negotiated corporate sponsorships for the first time.
The sponsorship deals are with companies, including fire engine manufacturer Dennis and protective clothing giant Gore, which makes GoreTex. The fund also promoted its fundraising lottery to the public for the first time.
This week a commemorative book called Out of the flames was launched to mark the charity's 60th anniversary and raise awareness and money.
The fund aims to enhance quality of life for serving and retired firefighters.
It provides retirement accommodation, rehabilitation and recuperative care and, in some cases, financial support.