The Future of Fundraising

Published: 27 May 2016

The UK is renowned for its collective generosity when it comes to the business of fundraising. However, recent findings have shown that donations have fallen this year by £500million. In 2014, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) survey suggested an estimated total amount donated to charity by UK adults of over £10billion. This level of giving enables the excellent work of thousands of charities and voluntary organisations. The top seven charities remain unchanged in their position from last year (Civil Society News/Charity Finance); but will that be the case with new fundraising regulations in place, the ongoing media scrutiny, and the uncertainty of our future in the EU? 

It appears that all charities are under scrutiny after recent allegations made in the national media; The Cup Trust, Kids Company, Olive Cooke to name a few… But how much has this negativity stopped people donating? With many organisations getting the majority of their fundraising income through direct marketing, surely this has affected their overall income. Many of these organisations have already put plans in place to develop new income streams to combat the reduction in donations from this channel.  

Following Olive Cooke’s death, her experiences were echoed by numerous complaints to the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB). Now, with new changes in place, the FRSB will look to prevent donors being bombarded and their details being passed on without their permission, driving fundraising best practice throughout the UK. 

It is not all doom and gloom in the world of giving. The excitement of mass participation events, such as the London Marathon appears to bring out the best in people and increase their willingness to donate. With over 39,000 people completing the 26.2 mile route, London Marathon runners have raised over £770 million for charity since its launch 26 years ago. It’s beaten the Guinness World Record for one-day charity fundraising for the last 9 years and clearly people are hardwired to enjoy the act of helping others - it is a sign of positive mental health! 

We had the task of supporting the London Marathon Charitable Trust in appointing their Chief Grants Officer. These types of posts are monumental in ensuring the good work to continue and it was essential for us to identify individuals who would drive excellence within the organisation and also the wider world of fundraising. 

So with charities receiving such a substantial amount of public donations for these types of events, the security of personal and financial details held must be guaranteed by all organisations. It will be important to ensure that charities and the bodies charged with regulation act swiftly and effectively to maintain public trust.

One final and imminent factor that will certainly be on the minds of many in the third sector is the UK's EU referendum.  The “remain” campaign illustrates that the direct impact of grants and contracts lost from the EU would be around £200m a year. There is much uncertainty, but whatever the outcome the effect will be significant. Charities will no doubt be planning how they will respond in the event of Brexit; they will need to carry out consultation and pint point strategic fundraisers who can adapt to the new economic environment and understand their audience to sustain their support.  

So what is in store for the future of fundraising? All will have to be confident in standing up to negative media coverage, whilst able to count on them to shine a spotlight on the issues they work to solve, to be reactive to what’s ahead in June and plan for different fundraising income streams for the future. 

Christina Hargreaves is a Senior Researcher in the Charities and Not for Profit Practice

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