Fundraising in 2020: Communication is key

Written by Ceri Edwards
17/12/19

The past year has showcased some stark headlines around charitable giving. According to CAF’s UK Giving 2019 report, the number of people saying they have given to charity has dropped from 61% to 57% over three years. Whether this is a blip (over two years) or a trend (over three) – the IoF’s own research – Fundraising for Impact with PwC – shows us that there’s much more going on under the surface.

We can see that 2019 has meant a shift in landscape for fundraisers, but this certainly doesn’t mean a landslide.

Economic uncertainty, costs of compliance, the world post-GDPR and a focus on improving the experience of current supporters have all contributed to the change. And we should remember that while the times are a-changing, the total amount donated to charities has remained the same with £10.1 billion given each year.

People care (enormously – just look at the effects of Extinction Rebellion), but how they express their feelings and what action they take might be changing.

We all know that the public remain hugely dedicated to the causes close to their hearts – and the challenge in 2020 is to help connect people to the causes they care about in new and innovative ways.

Encouraging high net worth giving

With the number of regular givers donating even larger amounts to charity, there is lots to be said for a renewed focus on major donors. Recent figures from Barclays Private Bank revealed that only 50% of UK multimillionaires donate 1% or more of their annual income.

We all need to look at how we can develop relationships with these wealthy donors, and the IoF, in collaboration with the Beacon Collaborative (a network of philanthropists encouraging greater giving) and Barclays Private Bank, is looking at how best to do that to harness the ability of the wealthiest in society to give more to support good causes.

But 2020 should not be a year for just focusing on what the wealthiest are able to give; it should also be a year for building relationships from those with more to give, whatever their income levels.

As Amy Sweeting, co-chair of the IoF’s Major Donor Special Interest Group says, younger generations have more of an understanding and confidence to donate. Her team at Missing People will focus on bringing in a younger generation of philanthropists and leaders into their major donor stream. “They have the means, time and passion to dedicate to a cause, and they want to create positive change in the world,” she says. “We need to link up various streams of fundraising, the wider organisation and the wider sector to create the right environment to prompt younger people who are keen to start doing a bit more. For example, approaching major donors and their families to take part in challenge events and encourage cross-team working to benefit the whole charity.”

An issue for us all – the climate

‘Climate emergency’ has been coined the Oxford Word of the Year 2019. This year can be defined as the year of environmental activism as the public took to the streets to join a largely youth-led climate strike, with environmental charities attracting and involving new donors in their work. And now, 2020 must be a year where we all look at how we engage with this generation of activists – in ways that inspire them – and connect them to causes they, and we, care so much about.

The conversation is also turning to how those of us in the charity sector can play our part to reduce carbon emissions – no matter what our cause is. Our own carbon footprints, and those of our organisations, are attracting the attention of supporters, donors and funders – and rightly so. In 2020, the IoF will be supporting members as they start to look at how green their operations are, as they question the ethics of old and new partnerships and relationships and how we all make decisions to walk away from those that might be harming the climate.

And it’s imperative that we take our communities on that journey too, knowing how to talk about climate awareness as part of how we talk to our donors about how we ‘do good’.

There are so many environmental charities leading the way on this already, including inspirational goals from the likes of the British Red Cross, which has shown great leadership by committing to becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

The biggest opportunity for 2020? Legacies

Legacies have been showing real growth over recent years, due to a push from a growing network of legacy consortia across Europe and Remember A Charity in the UK.

Craig Fordham, director of legacies at Macmillan Cancer Support, forecasts that 2020 will deliver another record year for legacy income, moving towards £3.2 billion as a sector.

“2019 has proved to be a challenging year for legacy income for Macmillan and the sector as a whole, with well-documented issues around the notification and probate services,” he says.

“As well as a less tumultuous year, I’m hoping 2020 will see even more people across the sector recognise the importance of investing in legacies and the impact that these donations will have on all charities in the future.”

‘What are we doing about legacy giving?’ should be one of the key questions being asked by your board over the coming year.

Support from the IoF

For the IoF, 2019 has been a journey. It kicked off with the first big steps of its Change Collective campaign, which is designed to make the fundraising sector one that’s more diverse and inclusive and where everyone is ‘the right fit’. With the launch of the three year equality, diversity and inclusion strategy – as well as a new EDI Committee to spearhead this work across the Institute and a focus on recruitment, women in leadership and so much more – this journey is one that will pick up speed in 2020. As will the final steps needed as part of the journey to become the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.

This is a really important step for the IoF and the fundraising community, embedding professional standards at the heart of the fundraising community, and securing external recognition for the important role fundraisers play in today’s society raising vital funds to make the world a better place.




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