FUNDRAISING NEWS: Guide Dogs breaks funds target

Annie Kelly

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association claims that its new fundraising strategy is well ahead of target and its first campaign to recruit new donors has already pulled in more than 45,000 regular givers.

The charity launched its donor development and acquisition programmes in 2000 as part of a fundraising strategy designed to help cancel out its £15 million deficit by the end of 2004.

Guide Dogs expects to boost its public fundraising from £2 million to £7 million by 2005 through new activities which include community fundraising, donor development and charity raffles.

Steve Billington, director of external relations, said the results demonstrated that the charity was able to adapt its traditional practices to suit different audiences.

"After three years of heavy investment in developing our donor communications, we're on the verge of breaking even and going into profit with this particular channel, which is a massive step forward," he said.

The charity's donor development programme is Guide Dogs' first attempt to ask the public to support the charity through regular and monthly donations.

Concentrating on direct mail and TV advertising, the programme was launched with a "sponsor a puppy" campaign, which asked new supporters to donate £5 a month to help fund the training of guide dog puppies.

The charity has also completely restructured its community fundraising division to help it reach its target rise in fundraising income. It predicts that community fundraising will pull in around £4.5 million by 2005, and is recruiting for a handful of posts which should help its locally-based teams to become more professionally focused and to start building effective fundraising relationships with local corporate partners.

In the past Guide Dogs relied almost exclusively on legacy income, but has now hired a manager to develop legacy maximisation programmes. It expects its legacy income to remain static at around £26 million a year.

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