Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Do they know it's Christmas?

Looks like Children in Need are going to be down this year. Not by much but, according to the word on the street, a bit. CAF and Cathy Pharoh say individual giving's down 11%. We all know corporates are sitting on their hands, dispite the return of the bonus. So what are the portents for the annual round of Christmas Appeals?

I'll stick my neck out and say that I think they'll be down by more than 11%!*!*!*

Why, I hear you ask? Well I hope you're asking after my last optimistic missive. Of course there'll be some winners and losers - c'est la bloody vie - but overall, I reckon down, because...........

We live in uncertain times. Yes even more uncertain than last autumn when we knew everything was going south. Now floods are hitting places horribly after 14" of rain. That's more than you get in a tropical rain forest. As yet no certainty in the UK that growth will go positive next quarter. And anyway unemployment wll continue to rise for some time after that swing. Remember the Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times". Well they are certainly that and as a result I think people will cut back in areas that so far we've hardly seen. For once being a grump could be seriously part of the zeitgeist and for that reason alone I'm battening down the hatches.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

New shoots or dead dog bounce?

There's some really interesting stuff around even for a grump like me.
Blackbaud reporting the fundraisings are forecasting increased income next year (but not as much as their French, Italian and Dutch counterparts). It is, of course, attitudinal but after all the gloomy prognostications over the last 15 months it is a breath of fresh air. Or is it?

In another vein trusts and foundations have been far less affected than we all thought. At a session for Institute of Fundraising consultants David Emerson of the ACF along with Linda Kelly of Lloyds TSB and Shirley Scott of Richard Reeves all reminded us that trusts tend to be rather conservative, careful and cautious. As a result many have very diversified investments with really quite stable incomes not relying either on low interest rates or crappy equities. In fact many have property portfolios and whilst there might be 20% off the balance sheet value the rent roll has actually gone up over the last 12 months! What was reported however is a decline in the standards of applications and, even worse, increasing numbers of ineligable requests - a cardinal sin showing poor or no research.

So are fundraising directors being schizophrenic? That is being bullish about the potential for growth but then using shot gun approaches to their general fundraising asks in the vain hope that something will stick? This is not strategic, is poor fundraising and needs to stop.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


An awful lot of hot air is being produced about how to raise funds successfully using the internet, mobile communications and digital media. Howard Lake is already running a Twitter masterclass, Sue Fidler does an excellent job explaining it to those who think they know what it's all about and those who know they don't. Loads of others are pontificating without much real content (and isn't content still king?)

Recent reports indicate that commercial organisations spend a lot of their budgets on Search Engine optimisation (getting up the Google rankings)and that with a limited budget that has to be your priority. But, and there's always a but, whilst charities are doing a good job with site recognition (see the November dotmailer report) far fewer are making it work for fundraising income. Maybe that other grumpy old fundraiser, John Sauve Rodd might disagree but I digress.

Aren't we forgetting something again? The I doesn't just stand for internet. It stands for I, me, myself, numero uno, the main man(or woman). If we come at it from the perspective of the individual we may have a chance. THAT's where the social networking sites have got it right and charities (to my grumpy eyes) have got a long way to go.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Reasons to be cheerful, one, two three (with apologies to Ian Dury)

So things are going to get much worse (Third Sector 3rd November)! Joe Saxton rightly points to probable deep cuts in government funding in three years time. Stephen Bubb thinks it'll be sooner (After the election feels like a safe bet).

So that's the doom, gloom and Cassandra predictions and they are probably right in as far as they go. But it's not the whole picture is it? And fundraisers, more than most, are able to buck trends, be creative and tap new sources of income.

Hurrah! The Boomers are coming. From 2012 (post the Olympics just a 1000 days)the baby boomers are going to start dying in big numbers. In fact people are going to be dying who have never died before. As a boomer I'm entitled to be bloody grumpy. As a fundraising I have to keep telling charities to invest in legacy development (sorry thats "a gift in your will" The whole bit - and some of these are Joe's own numbers, about the boomers holding 85% of the UKs wealth is mind boggling. Events, investments, social enterprise, tribute funds, the list actually is endless.

So stop winging and start doing some strategic planning - a four year window looks good.