INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: The Realities of Fundraising

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising

In 2002, the British public gave over £7.3bn to charity, £2.3bn from Scotland alone. Without those gifts, £7.3bn of services could not have been delivered. That money meant that charitable work could be delivered effectively and in an innovative way by organisations able to respond swiftly and flexibly to need.

Charities take their responsibilities seriously; trustees are responsible for ensuring that their charities deliver services as efficiently as possible. Trustees ensure that charities plan for the future, 10 and 20 years ahead, not just for the day after tomorrow.

Equally, fundraising enables charities to plan for the future. Long-term, committed giving is essential if charities are to budget for the long term and meet their responsibilities to their beneficiaries.

Wards in hospices, medical research projects, community regeneration projects - all are funded for the long-term benefit of the community, not for their short-term impact.

Charities have to retain the confidence of their supporters - confidence that they will continue to identify need and meet it as swiftly and effectively as possible.

To do this, charities have to communicate clearly and effectively. They have to communicate what they do, how they achieve it and how they fund it.

Charities operate in a diverse sector. Some charities are new, others are well-established. Some charities are growing rapidly, others are stable in their funding requirements.

Different charities have different sources of voluntary income. No two organisations or causes are identical; some are more attractive to supporters than others; some receive more funding from the state or charitable trusts than from individuals.

Factors like these will have a direct impact on how organisations set about raising money and what it costs to do it.

Establishing a new fundraising campaign or developing a new fundraising technique will incur development costs in the first year that are offset against ongoing income.

Some fundraising activities, particularly more specialised ones such as direct marketing, payroll giving recruitment or face-to-face fundraising, are frequently outsourced.

Outsourcing to specialist contractors can mean that charities can apply their internal resources to their core activities. It is frequently a more cost-effective option than developing skills in-house.

Charities have a need to develop secure, long-term income streams. These income streams should come from a diverse range of sources to ensure sustainability.

Fundraising income from public collections to legacies, statutory income and grants from trusts and foundations should all be part of the mix.

The proportions of the mix, depending on the individual circumstances of each organisation, are what dictate the cost to the charity. It is, therefore, impossible to compare directly the fundraising costings of different charities.

Each charity will determine what is necessary to ensure the sustainability of its own organisation and projects.

Without sustainability, no charity can guarantee the long-term delivery of its objectives.

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