How are charities fundraising for impact?
June 12, 2019
The fundraising landscape has moved significantly in recent years, providing challenges for charities. For example, a member of the general public in our people’s panel, as part of our Building Public Trust Awards last year, commented that “people do think twice now before donating”.
In response, we recently launched new research, Fundraising for Impact, in collaboration with the Institute of Fundraising, exploring how charities are approaching fundraising and their views about the future. We conducted this research to provide charities with insights and a wider context to help inform their decision-making around fundraising strategies and investments.
Our key findings were:
- Improving the experience and growing relationships with existing supporters is the most commonly reported current fundraising priority for charities (63%), while the most important area for fundraising in the future is finding new supporters (74%).
- The majority (51%) of charities reported that financial return on investment was the factor most likely to ‘always’ be considered in fundraising investment decisions, with other factors, such as raising public awareness of the charity and brand recognition, also being important.
- Charities have seen rising costs over recent years, with the most significant increases in costs of fundraising around the costs of compliance (86%), alongside workforce costs (83%), salary costs for employees (78%) and systems and technology costs (75%).
- The majority of charities predicted that there would be growth of at least 10% in most areas of voluntary income over the next three years, with digital engagement being the most likely area for this increase (75%).
The implications of these findings have really resonated with the charities I’ve spoken with, in particular around the importance of the supporter experience and a recognition that there should be a shift towards measuring success through a return on experience. It is not a matter of one size fits all - a great supporter experience will not be the same for different charities or different groups of supporters, as it will depend on the individual nature of each charity
In a changing world, where uncertainty over the economy was seen to be the most common fundraising challenge (79%), there was a real sense of positivity and optimism from our respondents, particularly with their predicted increase in voluntary income over the next three years. This aligns with the resilience that is demonstrated across the fundraising profession which will continue to be vital in navigating the road ahead.
The way in which charities are looking to fundraise is changing, with digital engagement and innovation common themes from respondents, and perhaps this is one reason why fundraisers are buoyant about the future. This may also explain the anticipated increase in systems and technology costs by charities over the next three years. It is important, however, for there to be an appropriate balance between business as usual and investing for the future, to ensure ongoing voluntary income. Having a clear forward plan that allows for innovation and gives fundraisers space to think longer term, while managing shorter term demands, will be key to securing buy-in at board-level and ensuring sustainability.