Money, money, money…


It makes the world go round.

Or, at the very least, keeps your charity going a little longer.

So that’s why I’m excited to be going to the Institute of Fundraising’s Introductory Certificate in Fundraising in London on 28 March 2014.

If you hadn’t heard of this already, the IoF runs this course for “those fairly new to fundraising and who need to improve their current understanding; those not yet working in the sector and volunteers and trustees who wish to extend their knowledge of fundraising.”

Which is most of us working in small charities.

But even better, there’s a help on offer for small charities which means that it could cost you as little as £20.

So, what are you waiting for?

This is as close to a free lunch as you’re going to get…

For more details, visit the IoF website.


Charity Fat Cats, and the Disappearing Cream…

Life in the third sector is tough.

Here I sit, a charity employee, relaxing in my large leather armchair, in my corner office, worrying about my company limo no longer being this year’s model, finding out that the UK is becoming less generous.

A report out today from the Charities Aid Foundation has confirmed that the UK has dropped from the 5th to the 8th most generous nation in the world. In 2011, 72% of us gave money to charity, down from 79% in 2010.

One of the more worrying criticism raised recently has been whether giving to charity is value for money.

A growing criticism of charities in these straightened times is the complaint that charities inefficient, self-interested and wasteful of donations.

Is that fair?

Well, there was some interesting research conducted in April 2010 by the Small Charity Directory on the percentage of donations that directly to charitable causes?  There were some encouraging answers.

Oxfam stated that for every £1 given, 80p is spent on emergency, development and campaigning work; 11p on support and governance; and 9p invested to generate future income.

The British Heart Foundation stated that for every £1: given, 56p is spent on medical research, 27p on prevention and patient care, 16p on income generation, and 1p on governance and office running costs.

The Red Cross stated that for every £1 given, between 85p and 90p is spent on direct charitable work, with the remaining 10p spent on governance, management and central support costs.

So the problem is perhaps one of perception rather that reality.

However, it is important that you charity can demonstrate value for money, as a recent Guardian article argued. So what should your charity do?

  1. Review your management accounts, and check that there are no inefficiencies in your operations.  Look for areas where you are being potentially wasteful, and try to cut down as much as possible.
  2. Consider other solutions to reduce waste.  Could you collaborate with other similar charities?  Could you share office costs or admin services? Would a merger help further your mission?
  3. Explain to your donors and supporters how you are spending their money.  Transparency and trust are so important in the third sector, and once trust is lost, its hard to regain.  Proactively show the public how you are spending their money, and what has been achieved.

Now, I wonder how much my Christmas bonus will be this year?…

Decline in Christmas Giving? Bah Humbug!


Jesus in a manger.  Peace on earth.  Good will to all men?

One of the traditional messages of Christmas has been giving to the poor,  one memorably captured in the Dickens Classic, A Christmas Carol.  The main character, after being visited by three spirits, was shown the error of his miserly ways and ended the tale by bringing a generous Christmas dinner to a poor family in need.

But it seems from a recent US survey that this festive season may be less Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, one and all“, and more Scrooge’s “Bah Humbug“.

Americans plan to spend more this Christmas on consumer goods than last year, but they also plan to give less to charity. Less than half will give any charitable gift – a drop from 51 percent to 45 percent.

But it’s not all discouraging.

A recent UK survey by the Give More campaign confirmed that support for charity is still on the agenda this Christmas. For example

  • 43% of 18 to 24-year-olds were willing to buy presents from websites that give to charity;
  • 36% of women said they would buy gifts from charity shops; and
  • 64% of the over-65s said they would donate spare change.

So what ways can you benefit from such charitable intentions?

It may be too late this year, but why not plan ahead for next year.

1.7bn Christmas cards weresent in Britain last year, with around 25% of those beingcharity cards, with proceeds going to good causes.

You could consider selling cards produced by beneficiaries online or at events in the run up to Christmas. You might also like to explore sites like Charity Christmas Cards, Card Aid or Cards for Charity.

Christmas Carolling is a tradition with a long history, dating back to 4th century Rome.  You might encourage supporters to arrange event Christmas carol services of events for friends, family, neighbours or colleagues, to raise money for your charity.

If you are collecting money on the street, read my quick guide first.

Mulled Wine also has a long tradition, being known in medieval times for its health benefits, and called Ypocras or Hipocris after the physician Hippocrates.

You might like to encourage your supporters to organise a mulled wine and mince-pie parties, and take a collection during the event.

Alms for the Poor has been long associated with Christmas, with some traditions placing an ‘alms box’ in church on Christmas Day, into which worshippers placed a gift for the poor of the parish.

Why not consider a Christmas appeal, asking your supporters to give especially at Christmas to support a particular project or need.  remember to make your approach engaging, specific and sensitive, and be aware of your different audiences.

Consider how to reach donors both by post and online, and make sure that your Christmas ask fits with your broader fundraising strategy.

Remember, with some simple planning, your charity can benefit from the increased feelings of goodwill to all men.

A Decline in Christmas Giving?

Bah Humbug to that.

If you’d like more info or have any questions, do get in touch on bettercharityblog[at] or on Twitter @BetterChairty.

Happy New Year? The 2013 charity hangover…

hangoverWe getting closer to that most fabled of Scottish festivals, Hogmanay.

New Year’s Eve.

A night of celebration, reflection, and anticipation.

But this New Year might not be quite as happy for charities as we would like.  A recent survey for the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), out this week, discovered some difficult truths as 2013 approaches.  Among the findings:

  • one in six charities fear closure in the 2013;
  • nearly half of charities may need to dip into reserves;
  • one in three fear being forced to cut services or jobs;
  • nine out of 10 believe raising funding will be the greatest challenge;
  • nearly half believe their charity may have to scale back its work.

Sobering reading.

But what can your charity do to prepare for another challenging year?

Firstly, make sure that you know your financial position clearly.

Review your management accounts, and check whether there are any downward trends in individual giving, any trust funding that might not be renewed, any major donor relationships that may be cooling.

Consider what are the main risks for the year ahead and think about what you can do to counteract them. Have a look at my recent article on Banking Help for Charities as a useful starting point.

Forewarned is forearmed, as the cliché goes.

Secondly, make sure that you have fundraising calendar in place for 2013. Think about how to get the balance between maximizing the opportunities to fundraise without risking donor fatigue.

Consider whether your fundraising activities are as varied as they could be.  Visit the Institute of Fundraising for some ideas and guidance, or think about ways to engage your online donors.

Thirdly, hope for the best but plan for the worst. Make sure you have a positive, stretching budget to help deal with any successful fundraising, but don’t forget to also have austerity options.  How would your charity cope with a 20% fall in income?  Or 30%?

The more you plan at this stage, the better you will be prepared to deal with the coming year, whatever it brings.

So remember to enjoy your Hogmanay, but watch out for the nasty 2013 hangover round the corner.

A little planning can save a lot of grief…

Six online donor profiles and action points

Give as you Live research has identified six online charity supporter profiles from its Digital Donor Review.  Polly Gowers, chief executive of Give as you Live tells Third Sector that the research will help charities save time and money.

As a quick summary of the report highlights, did you know that across all charities, online audiences are now as large as traditional offline audiences (51% online, 49% offline), and that soon Facebook and Twitter audiences will be over a third of the total charity audience.

So this really is helpful research, and can help your charity consider what your online donors are really looking for.

The six profiles cover the most common types of online donors, and you can use them to start to tailor your charity’s online presence right now.

The six profiles that GAYL has identified are:

  • Young starter Neil, who is most likely to give via text
  • Marie, who represents young, comfortably well-off families and is a heavy online shopper, so uses websites such as Give as you Live to generate donations
  • Industrial heartland Clive, who donates mainly through traditional offline channels but has donated via text and online sponsorship sites
  • Affluent oldie Margaret, who donates mostly through direct debit or cash appeals, but is a digital native who buys gifts and banks online
  • Rachel, who represents squeezed middle families and who actively engages with her favourite charities on Facebook
  • Wealthy professional Jacqueline, who regularly sponsors friends through online giving websites

As a start, let’s think about the six donor types.

If you are getting support from Neils, the students and young professionals, who are not very famliar with giving to charity, you might like to set up a JustTextGiving account, and ensure that all your documents have the JTG number and details on them.  You also might consider producing business cards or flyers to give out to interested supporters at key events. And carefully consider fundraising on the streets.

If you are working with Maries, the family donations, make sure you have set up a Give As You Live profile.  It’s very simple to operate, and raises money with minimal effort from your supporters. You might also like to ensure that any communications you send to them have attractive, easily digested and compelling case studies, and easy options to give online.

If you have Clives, industrial background, interested in you, make sure you are encouraging your network of active supporters to run, jump, cycle, eat, fast for charity, and get some JustGiving pages set up.  You might also like to lead the way with a high profile sponsored event involving your senior staff, trustees or patrons.

If you have Margarets, affluent oldies, in your networks, then make sure you are not neglecting your paper and postal asks, but ensure that you have all the digital channels details in your documents.  Margaret might like to visit a YouTube channel or a to learn more, but make sure its easy to navigate through to the giving section of your website, or allow her to buy some charity merchandise.

If you appeal to Rachel and the squeezed middle, don’t forget to build an interesting and encouraging community for your supporters, using your Facebook page to promote your causes and campaigns.  Ensure you have high quality stories and asks, that Rachel might want to share with her network, and help you build your profile and reach.

If you are being supported by Jacquelines, the wealthy professionals, get to work again on your active supporters to get some JustGiving sponsorship pages and don’t forget to involve your senior staff and trustees.  Think also about whether you can gently work with Jacqueline to encourage her along the giving continuum but be prepared to demonstrate good value for money.

Giving on-line is constantly evolving, but taking some simple steps could really make a difference.

Feel free to contact me for more information: andrewkmackay[at] and @BetterCharity.

Fundraising on the Streets?

Funding a charity is not an easy task, and can sometimes be a daunting for trustees.

One great idea for fundraising is asking for money directly from the public.  While this can be a great way to raise your profile as well as your funds, there are some issues you need to be aware of.

Generally, local councils are supportive of charities raising funds in local communities. There are many different forms of charitable collections, and all have different rules associated with them. You can find some general guidance at

Some of the most common ways for charities to collect money are:

  • Street collections – To collect money in the street, you need apply for a licence from your local authority.  For more information, I suggest looking at your local council’s website for local arrangements.
  • Private collections – If your collection is still open to the public, but being held on private property such as within a shopping centre or rail station, you must obtain permission from the landowner or manager.
  • Static collection boxes – Boxes must be secure and tamper proof. You do not need a licence to place these in a shop or business, just permission from the business owner. One way to raise money is to approach pus and clubs for permission to install charity collection boxes at their bars.
  • House-to-house collections – Licences must be obtained from your local authority.