Charities aim to double trading in search for financial independence, says report

A new report examines charity commitment to raising resources through trade rather than donations and identifies best practices and key challenges for charities looking for new income-generating activities.

The Social Investment Consultancy (TSIC) today released the firm’s latest research: Charities Unlocked: Realising the commercial and social value of charitable assets.

TSIC research director Rachel Linn led the sector research, which included 50 interviews with senior executives of charities representing £476.5 m in total income.

“Charities are already resourcefully leveraging their brands, people, products, services and expertise to make their own money – and they are going to be doing more of it,” said Jake Hayman, CEO of TSIC.

“The sector is infinitely more entrepreneurial than people give it credit for – charity executives are fighting the recession with enterprise.”

Other results of the research include:

9 out of 10 executives interviewed (88%) reported they were already earning at least a portion of their income through charging directly for core services, or trading activity.

65% reported that they planned to grow the relative share of their earned income further in the next five years.

On average, executives wanted to double the percentage they currently earn from trading.

Managing director of Age UK Enterprises Gordon Morris, who participated in the research, said: “There are real opportunities in trading but it has to be done correctly. I would tell charities that to get it right, they need to think correctly and commercially.

"You need to get the right people planning it and to get the right advice. By doing it properly, we’ve been able to develop a customer base who have stayed with us for years—we are building a renewable income base for our organisation.”

Previous TSIC research has shown that many of today’s philanthropists are more eager to invest in charity sustainability initiatives than direct programming.

TSIC has used its latest research to launch a new service, Charity Unlock, to advise charities on the transition to revenue generation.

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