Fundraising ratios stop investment and should be scrapped, IoF convention hears

Fundraising consultant Daryl Upsall tells the annual gathering that trying to grow while spending as little as possible on fundraising and administration is attempting the impossible

(Photograph: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

Fundraising ratios drive a race to the bottom and the sector needs to reject them, the fundraising consultant Daryl Upsall has warned.

Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention in central London, Upsall said that attempting to grow a charity while trying to spend as little as possible on fundraising and other administrative areas added up to trying to do the impossible.

Delegates at the session heard that traditional fundraising channels did not appeal to new generations of potential donors and were failing to bring in a sustainable number of them.

"One of the stupidest, stupidest things we do as a sector is this drive to the bottom," said Upsall. "Who can get the lowest percentage of expenditure on administration, then we convince the public that this is good.

"What it really does – and it doesn’t matter which country in the world you operate in – is stop investment.

"There’s no growing company in the world that isn’t spending some money on research and development, marketing and all the things you need to be successful."

But Upsall said that in the charity sector "we try to do the impossible: we try to spend less and therefore get better".

He also warned that charities should try to get on board with fundraising through SMS and social media in order to attract new donors, warning that if they left it too long the opportunities would no longer be there.

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