Community fundraising benchmarking 2018

The eagerly anticipated results of THINK’s Community Forum Benchmarking Survey are now available and THINK is delighted to share the headlines from the survey with the sector, through the infographic below. The benchmarking is based on data from the 21 member organisations of THINK’s Community Forum.

It is three years since the last benchmarking survey was undertaken and in this article, we discuss what we think this year’s results tell us about the changing picture of community fundraising and the implications behind the headlines. It should be noted that the questions used in the 2018 survey were refined and developed from the 2015 survey, and so a direct comparison of results is not always possible:

Community Forum Benchmarking Infographic

  1. Community fundraising is an increasingly important part of the fundraising mix

Several of the benchmarking headlines confirm that much progress has been made in community fundraising’s journey from the periphery to the very heart of the fundraising mix: 87% have experienced growth in community fundraising in the last three years, 90% have invested in this area in the last two years and 71% plan to do so in the next year. This progress could be a result of the recognition of community fundraisers’ ability to build long-term, sustainable relationships with supporters, combined with the changing regulatory landscape and the challenge this poses for more transactional or product based fundraising.

  1. Attitudes towards community fundraising are changing

Organisations have experienced a sea change in attitudes towards community fundraising, with 71% reporting that attitudes have become more positive. For those of us who remember the ‘dark days’ when community fundraising was widely considered to be the ‘poor relation’ by those inside and outside the discipline alike, this is indeed welcome news!

  1. Community fundraising programmes are becoming increasingly supporter-led

Although the headline ROI figure of 3.1:1 has remained consistent with the ROI figure reported three years ago, the net income per FTE has risen by 21%, from £158,000 to £191,000. This improved performance could be due in part to programmes becoming more supporter-led, with community fundraisers driving efficiencies and maximising income through their relationship management expertise. Other contributory factors could include more robust infrastructure supporting teams in their operational delivery, and better segmentation and stewardship of supporters.

  1. DIY fundraising continues to be a key driver of growth

The benchmarking survey in 2015 highlighted the magnitude of DIY fundraising, (do-it-yourself where supporters undertake their own fundraising activities in aid of a charity) providing us with value and volume data for the first time. The 2018 results show that DIY fundraising remains dominant within the portfolio, constituting on average 24% of the total value of community fundraising income. The contrast with the 2015 results reveals some interesting insights: the number of DIY fundraisers that a typical organisation can expect to steward has risen by 65% from 1,555 to 2,559 but the average value of a DIY gift has only increased by 1.6%, from £428 to £435. Something about segmented and tiered stewardship.

  1. The lifetime value of fundraising groups is extremely significant

The fundraising group headline is new for 2018 and shows that a typical charity with national service delivery can expect to have 276 groups, each with an average value of £14,000, which could provide a five-year income in the region of £70,000 per group! And we must not forget all of the additional benefits that groups bring to an organisation, such as increased brand profile and cause awareness in local communities, strengthened campaigning capacity and a positive impact on other income streams, like legacies.

  1. Community fundraising portfolios are becoming more clearly defined

The 2018 benchmarking shows that whilst there remains variance in community fundraising portfolios across organisations, the five big income streams are shared by the vast majority. A typical community fundraising portfolio can expect to have 24% of total value derived from DIY, 20% from groups, 17% from third party challenge events, 12% from regional corporate and 13% from in memoriam donations.

  1. Community fundraising’s opportunity to align with service delivery is improving

There has been a significant change in the location of community fundraising staff over the last three years, suggesting that potentially, community fundraising’s alignment with service delivery is improving. In 2015, the majority of community fundraising staff (60%) were office based with 40% home based. In 2018, the number of office based staff has reduced to 36%, the number of home based staff has increased to 52% and interestingly, we now see 12% of staff based alongside service delivery teams.

  1. Staff retention is better than anecdotal evidence often suggests

Staffing issues are often cited by Community Forum members as being a major headache, and although it is undeniable that there are big challenges around staff recruitment for example, the average community fundraising staff turnover of 17% is much lower than the industry standard turnover of 23%.