My top eight lessons from 2022
1. Live fundraising events are most definitely back
All charities have been wondering whether, in a post-pandemic world, their supporters would want to attend live in-person events once again in 2022, or whether a new hybrid model works better.
Our work this year has given us a clear answer. In-person events are back and here to stay!
We advised on and were involved in producing several successful in-person events this year:
- an operatic gala dinner for 250 people in a Livery Hall which raised £100,00, £35,000 more than their last such event in 2019.
- a smaller, parlour event, for the same charity, following our major donor strategy work, which raised £20,000.
- a 600+ guest corporate quiz in the City of London
- a fundraising gala entirely conducted in French for 300 Francophone guests, which raised £500,000.
- Smaller parlour major-donor dinners were also held for 120 and 100 guests.
2. But virtual match funding campaigns are not going anywhere
The 36-hour match-giving, crowd-funding campaign is still a very popular fundraising tool, especially for charities who can allocate match funding and galvanise a team of ambassadors willing to reach out to their family, friends, and network.
While the campaign may only last 36 hours, the planning can take several months. And this year we supported clients working on three match-funding campaigns, which raised £175,000, £200,000, and £250,000 of new income respectively.
Our role in these campaigns is to act as a trusted advisor. In particular
- providing overall guidance and strategy, ensuring the operational elements are achieved and the funds raised
- ensuring senior leadership, Trustees and Boards are convinced of the approach, and working through the various internal infrastructure challenges and cultural expectations.
- helping charities to work through internal procedures and think about how such a campaign could work for them. For example, some had match funding secured, while others used the opportunity to create a major donor fundraising framework in which to bring on-board high-level donors.
- working with trusted designers and filmmakers to help create the marketing and social media collateral needed.
Interestingly, when a charity repeats the campaign for a second or third year, there is a clear trend for fewer team captains participating and a decline in donor numbers, but an increase in the amount per donor given.
So far, we have two campaigns scheduled in for 2023 – one UK wide and one international.
3. Grassroots charities need tailored guidance
We work with charities of all sizes, and even pre-charities (organisations that are considering setting up but need support and guidance to do so). While they require strategic thinking about what structures will work best today, it is just as important to think about what the fundraising and growth strategies could look like in 12,24,36 months’ time.
This year we’ve helped two charities with their registrations and advised a third to convert from a CIC to a CIO. We also recommended that a fourth not-for-profit works in partnership with an existing charity, rather than set itself up as a charity.
“It has been great working with Ben and the team on this project and I hope we can do so again in the future. Your fresh perspective, insights and professionalism were so valued – you delivered what you said you would when you said you would. That is greatly appreciated.” Charity CEO
4. Recruitment continues to be a challenge
Everyone has had recruitment challenges in 2022 and the charity and fundraising sector is no different. Faced with providing more services to beneficiaries, while experiencing rising costs, we live in hope that 2023 will bring a miraculous increase in the number of readily available, superstar fundraisers!
This year we have successfully recruited an Executive Director, embedded a freelance trust and foundation fundraiser with a client and onboarded two new trustees for another client.
5. Coaching, mentoring, and training is needed more than ever
Our most requested service this year has once again been to help fundraisers to become better at their jobs. We have provided 1-2-1 coaching, mentoring, and training with professional and volunteer fundraisers at all levels, helping to increase their confidence and technical skills.
What often starts off as an initial chat over a coffee to discuss “Doing fundraising better” turns into an ongoing conversation about personal and professional development. Seeing the impact, a revitalised member of staff, team or board member can have on their charity’s fundraising or leadership is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable elements of our work.
Something I have stressed to every client this year is the importance of undertaking fundraising reviews, so they can understand their current fundraising position, look at potential opportunities and think about their fundraising strategies. I have helped several clients produce a compelling case for support and helped them to answer the really difficult questions a donor may pose.
I am currently working with a national charity to set up their first major donors giving circle and to integrate this concept across 230 fundraisers spread across the UK.
7. Focus on your donor pipelines
I have seen a noticeable increase this year in requests for help with prospect research, especially to help clients develop new sources of potential individuals and Trusts and Foundations to add to their donor prospect pipelines.
Trusts and Foundations fundraising is increasingly competitive, but one that must be developed.
The 2019 CIOF Trust and Foundation Survey found that the average trust fundraising success rate was 1 in 7 applications, with 1 in 12 for cold approaches, rising to 1 in 3 for warmer, more established relationships.
We have considerable experience in helping clients research write applications and manage their Trust and Foundation portfolio. This year we have researched and presented over 120 Trusts and Foundations that our clients were not aware of and supported on applications sent to over 40 prospects.
What’s more, we know that prospects we found in 2021 have generated over £40,000 for clients in 2022.
8. Not everything always works
Successful fundraising is both art and science, and on occasions, despite the best-efforts, the strategy planned, and action taken, the project just doesn’t work the way you think it could. Or as the saying goes “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. We advised on a project for the last 10 months, that had all the key elements and strategy, but the goal wasn’t reached during our involvement. Hopefully it will be in the next 10 months. Timing plays a big part in fundraising.
“Ben’s advice was pivotal. His astute, intelligent, and kind approach to fundraising is a practice I will mirror, and I am sure his guidance will transform your career – as it did mine” – Fundraising Director