Time for charities to modernise their fundraising approach

Kyle Smith

Maximising fundraising income has never been more important – and arguably the fundraising environment has never been more challenging.

With 168,850 charities operating in England and Wales, fundraising is a competitive business, especially in the context of a cost-of-living crisis and a long hangover from the Covid pandemic.  Maximising fundraising income has never been more important – and arguably the fundraising environment has never been more challenging.

This means that finding ways to boost a charity’s income cannot be a secondary activity; it needs to be committed, planned and secured for the future.  Whilst a traditional approach may still work for some charities, many more need to revisit and adapt their fundraising tactics to match an evolving world.

Who To Target

Many fundraisers concentrate on thinking of new ways to raise money, but the first consideration should not be the ‘how’, but the ‘who’.  It is vital to understand your target market, because otherwise your fundraising won’t hit the spot, however innovate your approach.

Many charities believe they have a key demographic, and seldom target activity outside this group.  It is common to concentrate on older donors, and this is understandable: 2022 Statista figures show that the most likely age group to give to charity were the 65 to 74 year-olds.

Conversely, the least likely group to donate are 16 to 24 year-olds.  And yet even amongst this group, 48% said they are likely to give; that’s nearly half, so ignoring this age group could be missing an opportunity.

It’s not just sheer numbers, either: different demographics go about their giving in different ways.  For example, research by the Charity Commission shows that millennials give generously to charities, but also carefully - they are likely to research their chosen charities before donating.  So engage with this, don’t be afraid of that scrutiny.

It isn’t just about age groups.  A study by the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator showed that two-thirds of Britons are more likely to support a charity whose objectives and activities affected them personally.  For the funder it is often personal, so be personable.

Many charities operate within a specific geographical area, and it makes sense that most of their fundraising effort will be concentrated locally.  But it doesn’t have to be, especially if they can use the internet to appeal to donors outside their area who may have an empathy with the work that they are doing.

The final point when it comes to considering who to target is not to ignore the corporate world.  It is common to think that during tough economic times, extracting money from businesses is harder, but with increasing pressure on companies to compete, social responsibility is seen as a competitive advantage. 

More and more companies have charitable initiatives to either fundraise on a charity’s behalf or to donate to causes directly. You can help them maximise the PR opportunities from this, which will encourage them to continue their fundraising activity.

Five Top Tips To Modernise Your Fundraising

1. Take it online

Even though 72% of charity leaders reported introducing, or planning to introduce, new methods of giving (according to the CAF Landscape Report 2022), only 41% are actually increasingly adopting online fundraising, and just 24% say they have the knowledge to make this online fundraising effective.  Does your charity need to revisit its website and ensure users are able to donate direct?  Don’t forget online fundraising pages on platforms such as JustGiving, allowing people to donate (including Gift Aid) directly to you.

2. Harness The Power Of Media

Are you maximising your outreach and visibility by using social media platforms to promote your charity and your fundraising activities?  Are you making the most of online networks of your staff and volunteers, and reaching out to online influencers?  Don’t discount traditional media, either: local newspapers and radio stations can get your message out both in volume and with credibility.

3. Cash Is No Longer King

Following Covid, only 17% of all payments are in cash, and an increasing number of people (especially younger people) no longer carry cash at all.  So ensuring you have card machines to capture donations on the day is vital if you don’t want to miss out.

4. Make It Mobile

Most of us live our lives on our mobile phones nowadays, so you must embrace this method of communication, both for fundraising and awareness.  Consider initiating and building an App, to help keep funders and donors abreast of your activity, provide up-to-date information, generally connect and stay in touch – and, of course, enable them to donate.

5. Try Something New

Just because your tried-and-tested fundraising methods have worked in the past doesn’t mean they will continue to work in the future.  Don’t be afraid to try something new and innovative when it comes to fundraising.  Stuck for ideas?  There are 130 of them here: www.easyfundraising.org.uk/fundraising-ideas.

Don’t Forget Gift Aid

Don’t forget to capitalise on your fundraising by utilising the Gift Aid Scheme, where you may be able to claim an extra 25% on the value of the donation.  This includes the Small Gift Aid Donations Scheme for donations of £30 or less where you don’t need a gift aid declaration to claim gift aid on up to £8,000 in donations.

Fundraise Responsibly

Finally – and very importantly – your fundraising activity needs to be legal.  Information on how to stay the right side of the law can be found here: www.gov.uk/guidance/fundraising-legally-and-responsibly.  You may wish to consider registering with the Fundraising Regulator to demonstrate your commitment to good fundraising practice.

If you have any questions

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