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A top-flight fundraising partnership

Find out what makes investing in consultancy support a smart strategic decision.

Gifted’s partnership with the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust is all about providing a flexible, tailored service that keeps the Charity’s fundraising firmly on track. Here, Stephanie Pisharody, Head of Philanthropy, shares her thoughts on what makes investing in consultancy support a smart strategic decision.

The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) funds a 24/7, life-saving service that brings rapid response, critical care to patients in need. With an annual revenue of over £9m, EHAAT relies heavily on the fantastic support it receives from the general public who play their Flight for Life lottery.

“This remains at the core of our day-to-day fundraising”, said Stephanie, “but we also recognise the importance of building a more resilient charity, by diversifying our income streams and developing a more proactive approach to major gifts fundraising. It has been our partnership with Gifted, and the working relationship we’ve built with Andrew Day, that has helped to guide this evolution in our strategic direction.

An expert sounding-board

When you’re facing a new set of challenges, it’s incredibly reassuring to have someone by your side who understands the culture of your organisation and keeps you focused on what’s important, not just urgent. Working with Andrew, I have an expert sounding-board. I’m able to draw on his vast amount of knowledge and experience and make confident decisions that deliver on our fundraising priorities.

Building a relationship that works

For the first year or so, we invested in Andrew’s time as we bedded in our strategy. The value of a retainer model like this is the combination of flexibility and access to expertise that it gives you. For me, a regular, weekly catch-up over Zoom can be an opportunity to evaluate a number of top prospects, or sense-check the details of a major gift proposal. Sometimes, it can simply be talking about what isn’t working and what we can do to change that.

Shaping the right kind of support

At EHAAT, we have a very clear vision of where we want to take the Charity and the kind of support that’s going to help us get there. It will be different for every organisation, so the key thing is to tailor a package of consultancy that meets your specific needs. This could include everything from training trustees, the wider charity team leaders and volunteers on the art of asking, to helping you devise new fundraising programmes or thinking about the best way to steward your givers. One of the things I’ve really valued, has been Andrew’s presence at board meetings where his credibility and gravitas have helped to get the message across or illustrate what works.

Taking the long view

I’m fortunate at EHAAT to have a trustee and leadership team that understands the value of investing in fundraising support. They appreciate that the results may not be immediate and that the fundamental groundwork of developing your case for support and building key relationships isn’t something you can fast-track. But, we are now starting to see the results of a much keener focus on philanthropic giving and the benefits this can bring in terms of our service delivery. I’m really grateful to Andrew and Gifted for the insightful, targeted guidance they’ve given us, every step of the way.”