High Value Fundraising – What’s going on out there?

As a benefit of membership, THINK’s Philanthropy and Partnerships (P&P) Forum members commission a piece of research into high value fundraising in the UK charity sector. In 2015, we’ve focused on areas such as team structure, function and approach, and the engagement of senior volunteers, to identify key trends and help members keep ahead of the game. The results are now in!

It is important to say that there’s no such thing as a typical charity but through a combination of surveys, interviews and reports, we’ve identified just a few headlines that any charity already embracing, or keen to expand into high value fundraising, needs to bear in mind……

Merge and Converge – over recent years, there’s been a shift towards merging high value giving areas into one integrated team, mirroring the approach taken by Higher Education and the Heritage and Arts sector some time ago. Some of the drive has been economic – charities merging teams to save money – but for many it’s been a strategic decision aimed at pooling skills, talent and resource to drive collaboration and maximise opportunities to engage high value prospect who could support in a range of different ways.

Support and Stewardship – recognising working face to face with high value supporters takes time and focus, charities are building high value teams that include specific support functions. These teams typically include prospect researchers, events staff, and proposal writers but there is also a trend to employ specific high value stewardship roles – team members who support fundraisers deliver bespoke, relevant donor care for high value supporters.

Build and Retain – resilience and continuity in a high value fundraising team is essential but across the sector, it’s proving increasingly difficult to recruit and retain experienced staff. Key members of staff can be in post less time than it takes to cultivate some of the bigger donor prospects. Higher salaries in Higher Education along with an increase in salary or responsibility being cited as a key driver to move jobs means competition to find, keep and motivate staff is becoming a real challenge.

Engage and Involve – senior volunteers are key to the success of all high value fundraising programmes but how they are engaged, managed and inspired is evolving. Traditional Development Councils are still common for capital appeals but for other fundraising, a more flexible engagement approach is emerging with charities looking for groups that they can engage for advice and support rather than simply asking for gifts. ‘Specialist’ volunteer groups (e.g. technology, corporate engagement) appeal to those wanting to provide more than money. It’s a great way for charities to diversify their senior volunteer base and offer real involvement – a well-documented route to increase their donations.

These are just some of the report highlights. If you’d like to know more, then membership of our P & P Forum  will give you access to the full report findings.  Please contact Simon  – simondickson@thinkcs.org for further details.