Sector should stop competing for the same pool of donors, says Caron Bradshaw

The chief executive of the Charity Finance Group urges voluntary organisations to seek other sources of funds, including more trading and social investment

Caron Bradshaw
Caron Bradshaw

Charities must ensure that attempts to increase fundraising in the charity sector do not just "spread the same money around in a slightly different way", an audience of voluntary sector specialists heard today.

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said that it was important to ensure that attempts to bring money into the sector did not just lead to "more rods being dipped in the same pool".

She said that charities had to look at new sources of funds, both inside and outside the world of fundraising, rather than compete for the attention of the same donors.

Bradshaw was speaking at the launch of the report Managing in the 'New Normal' – Adapting to Uncertainty, which examines how charities are coping with difficult economic conditions. It is published annually by the CFG, the Institute of Fundraising and PwC. The report says that 85 per cent of charities are "exploring new fundraising options".

Bradshaw said that the sector had the opportunity to develop new types of fundraising and to find other sources of funds, including increased trading activity, social investment and engagement with corporates.

She also said she felt the term "charity" might be in danger of outliving its usefulness because it did not accurately describe the whole sector. "I wonder if the word 'charity' is a dead horse," she said. "The dialogue and language around charity is something we should be challenging much more strongly.

"The bigger question is: what is charity?"

She said that members of the government and the public often associated the term with small voluntary organisations relying on donations, but this did not describe the whole sector.

MPs talked about how the government could build professionalism in the sector and increase public service delivery through charities, she said, but at the same time "they complain about charities becoming more and more like big business".

Bradshaw said the sector faced complaints about becoming dependent on the state, but big public service delivery specialists such as A4e and Serco were more dependent on the state than almost any charity.

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