FUNDRAISING NEWS: Income soars at Action for Blind

Annie Kelly

Face-to-face fundraising has transformed the finances of Action for Blind People, boosting its annual income from £2 million to £10 million in just over three years.

The charity decided to test the method as part of a restructuring of its fundraising department in 2000. Since then face-to-face fundraising has brought in more than £6 million and recruited 60,000 new supporters.

"Face-to-face fundraising has transformed our organisation and is largely responsible for our significant rise in income," said Gill Asterita, director of development at Action for Blind People. "We've got a good cause and a good name and people have responded well to the positive message that we communicate through our street fundraisers."

The charity has boosted its income by 27 per cent in the past year and its fundraising success has enabled it to launch a range of new services for blind and partially sighted people.

Asterita attributes the rise in income to the charity's decision to invest heavily in fundraising three years ago in an attempt to decrease Action for Blind People's reliance on legacy income.

The income boost comes at a time when many disability service charities are facing severe financial difficulties. In February, the RNIB announced 200 staff redundancies after legacy income dropped by £5 million and a quarter of the value of the charity's investments have been wiped out since April 2002.

The RNIB blamed the financial downturn and stock market crash for the job losses.

Asterita is positive that Action for Blind People will weather the economic storm. "At the moment we're going from strength to strength," she said.

"At a time when many charities are cutting back, we're expanding services.

This is down to us making the most of what we have and using techniques that get us straight to the people that are most affected by our message."

Face-to-face fundraising has grown substantially in the past year, with several big charities launching campaigns.

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