Charities should maintain investment in fundraising even at these uncertain times, academics have advised.
Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, and Alison Body, lecturer in philanthropic studies at the same university, were speaking at Third Sector’s online Fundraising Conference this week in a session about raising funds for unpopular causes.
Asked what fundraising advice they had for charities that work in more challenging cause areas, Body said they should avoid cutting back on fundraising investment because it was the single most important factor in increasing donations.
“When we are in a period of uncertainty there is a tendency to step back on this investment,” she said. “Keep the investment because it is really important.”
Investing in fundraising also means investing in fundraisers, which can include fundraiser-specific training, said Breeze.
The academics also advised that charities working in tougher fundraising areas should try not to think of their causes as unpopular because that risked turning donors off and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Body said organisations that saw themselves as unpopular would be inclined not to ask their donors for support.
Breeze said the way charities framed their causes affected how popular they were seen as. “How can you help your donors understand what the need is?” she asked.
The pair gave the example of Storybook Dads, which works with parents who are in prison but framed its campaign activity around the impact such a situation had on children.
Charities working in challenging areas were also advised to try to empower their supporters as cheerleaders by getting as many people as possible to share their causes with their networks and be vocally supportive of their campaigns.