Adapting to a different fundraising landscape
Whilst the Third Sector has always been subject to subtle shifts and even the odd seismic shock, the fundamentals of good fundraising are more enduring. Here, we reflect on how a few basic principles can help charities navigate new territory with confidence.
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has taught us many things. In fundraising terms, it has forced us to examine what we value and dig deep when it comes to kindness, generosity and community spirit. But, the lessons of lockdown have been hard and sadly, some charities may never recover.
Others though, have been reinvigorated by the changes, adapting their strategies to suit the new landscape and relying once again on the five fundamentals of successful fundraising: leading by example; keeping things personal; raising sights; acting with integrity and building solid foundations for the future.
Leading the way
For example, whilst we were using the ‘downtime’ to create a new fundraising strategy for Peterborough Cathedral, the senior leadership team seized an opportunity to approach the local Courts. The Cathedral is now doubling up as a venue to process trials and steadily address a backlog of legal cases. What’s more, the initiative is not only providing a much-needed income stream for the Cathedral, but also strengthening key relationships with the City.
Keeping things personal
Webinar Four in our summer series, tackles this issue head on. Here, our discussion demonstrates how charities securing the most generous gifts during this period of change, are those who have reached out and spoken directly to their closest supporters. They have been quick to explain the fundraising need, outline their plans for the future and most importantly say ‘thank you’ for the ongoing support they’ve received. By ensuring that communication is personal, clear and compelling, these organisations have also paved the way for raising people’s sights and attracting gifts they never thought possible.
The most important rule in the Third Sector is that a charity is only trusted if it acts with integrity and honesty. Whilst being flexible and open to innovative funding streams is a good thing, changing who you are as an organisation or stretching your values to meet other criteria can be a recipe for confusion and failure.
In contrast, our work at Gloucester Cathedral illustrates how staying true to your mission and adapting your strategy to reflect this, is a powerful philanthropic driver. Rather than press on with the next phase of a major capital campaign, it made sense for the Cathedral to launch a special appeal that focused hearts and minds entirely on its role as a beacon of hope and healing for so many. In less than six months, the appeal has already raised £500,000 towards its £1 million target.
Using online systems to build future success
In practical terms, one of the other big changes that we’ve all had to adapt to, is the shift to online working. Here, we’ve found that virtual meeting platforms have actually made conducting feasibility studies and strategic reviews even quicker, without affecting the quality of the work being undertaken. Online working has given us more flexibility when arranging interviews and our surveys have also had higher response rates than usual.
Finally, the general move to living and working more remotely, encouraged us to develop an affordable, reliable and effective online giving system for charities. As social distancing measures continue to affect the shape of fundraising events, those organisations able to engage with their communities online, are the ones most likely to raise money and build lasting relationships with donors. You can find out more about the Gifted system, here.