Keeping things personal when givers still want to keep their distance

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that, even when resources and opportunities are limited, charitable organisations simply can’t afford stop fundraising. From reviewing their strategy and building resilience, to launching emergency appeals and taking cultivation events online, in testing times the process of finding, asking and stewarding givers is more important than ever.

We also know that successful major gifts fundraising is inherently personal and thrives on a giver’s ability to persuade others to join them. Although social distancing restrictions are easing and we may have more opportunities to share our enthusiasm face-to-face, it’s likely that many potential givers will continue to prefer the virtual space to the physical one. Whether for health reasons, convenience or cost implications, it looks as though virtual and hybrid fundraising events are here to stay.

Cultivation

So, how do charities move forward and develop innovative ways of inviting prospective givers to meet inspirational experts and hear, first-hand, from grateful beneficiaries? In short, how do they cultivate prospects and keep things personal when the new landscape for major gifts fundraising is still evolving?

Over the past 12 months or so, we’ve seen that a great deal can be achieved using virtual technologies and we’re confident that as a hybrid approach to events takes shape, charities will step up to the challenge. Whilst a virtual experience may not have the same social or sensory advantages of a physical encounter, it can be just as informative, even more participative and less disruptive to our daily routines. Framed in a way that reflects the organisation’s DNA and respects the nature of the audience, a well-designed virtual or hybrid event will still attract the interest and support of potential givers.

Based on our experience with clients since the start of the pandemic, here’s a sample of event ideas that have been successfully used to cultivate and steward givers across the Third Sector.  

Presentation with Q&A

This is a more traditional approach, supported by platforms like Zoom. A typical running order might be;

  • Introduction, giving you buffer-time whilst virtual guests arrive and log-on
  • Main presentation including visuals, video clips or panel discussion if appropriate
  • Physical and/or virtual breakout conversations for audiences of less than ten. The organisation’s leaders can be available to groups of 2-4, continuing the conversation and fielding individual questions.
  • Group Q&A

To make an event like this work, it’s best to focus on smaller numbers and high-profile speakers so that an audience feels included in something quite bespoke and intimate. It’s great if there’s a sense of being the ‘first to hear about’ the latest progress or that guests are taking part in a ‘one-off conversation with the experts.’ Giving people an opportunity to learn something new and appreciate the difference their support will make, is really important.

Themed online events

We’ve seen these events work well with both small and medium sized audiences, where food, drink or themed activities bring an added sense of fun or relevance to the occasion. From providing dinner and drinks, to sending out hot chocolate kits to accompany a virtual campfire, these experiences feel more personal and memorable if the theme sits well with the organisation and the group of prospects they’re focusing on.

iPad buddies

If the goal is to take virtual guests on a tour of facilities or physical spaces, then setting up an ‘iPad buddies’ event can be really impactful. The idea is simple and involves pairing leaders’ or volunteers’ iPads with ones belonging to guests. Through this connection, someone sitting in their kitchen can feel as if they’re literally walking through a hospital, school or gallery with a senior clinician, headteacher or exhibition curator.

Of course, an event like this needs careful set-up and relevant training of volunteers, but organised effectively, it can offer a powerful and direct experience of a fundraising project.

Live-Lounge Panel

For some charitable projects, creating a Live-Lounge event can be a really stimulating way of fostering discussion and debate aimed at existing or potential givers. We’ve seen this work brilliantly with schools, where a ‘join us on the sofa’ invitation allows participants to ‘drop in’ for one or all of the conversation sessions scheduled over two or three hours.

Once again, this kind of event requires careful planning and good technological support. It works best when you have a variety of guests being interviewed, where discussions are tightly focused and there are opportunities for the audience to send in questions. It’s also a great way to showcase a new building or department, drawing attention to the quality of the work that takes place there and the benefits rippling out into the community.

How to present a virtual & hybrid cultivation event

Organising an information event

Organising a successful cultivation or information event, even when this takes place virtually, involves thoughtful planning. There may not be a venue to set up or catering to organise, but there could be other creative or technological requirements to consider. No matter what the size or sector, it’s important that the fundraising team have properly ironed out the details and know exactly who’s responsible for managing the preparations, presentations and IT support. It’s also worth remembering that there’s plenty of external help available. Some platforms have developed software suitable for charitable organisations and can also assist with the conceptual and practical aspects of setting up an event, at a reasonable cost.

Gifted Philanthropy is a full-service fundraising consultancy supporting clients across the Third Sector. You can find out more about the work that we do at www.giftedphilanthopy.com where you can also get in touch to arrange a no-obligations, initial discussion of your fundraising needs with one of our directors.

The dangers of putting your professional development on the backburner

When you’re hitting fundraising targets, donor retention is stellar, and your board is giving kudos, it can be tempting to rest on your professional laurels.

When everything is ticking along smoothly, we often think, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” However, just as a car that’s running like a dream still requires regular maintenance to operate at peak performance, so does your fundraising skill set.

Well, well. What do you know?

Reflect on how much professional development you participated in during the year prior to Covid.

How often did you attend trainings? Which conferences did you sign up for and why? Did you head off to the same events you’ve been to for ages to catch up with your fellow fundraisers and listen to a few of your favourite presenters? Or did you completely commit yourself to attending a full programme of sessions that stretched your knowledge and tangibly helped you move the need on developing your fundraising skills?

Remember that going to a conference is not the same as actively participating in your learning. Once while I was attending a session at a fundraising conference, a woman scrolled through the ASOS website for an entire 40-minute presentation. She didn’t look up from her iPad once.

If you’re not fully 100 percent present at conferences, you’re selling yourself short (and wasting the money of whoever paid for your registration).

Now, let’s talk about fundraising webinars. Are they something you have on in the background while you clear emails and text your partner about weekend plans?

Or do you turn off your IM, shut down your email, and grab a notebook so you can fully absorb the content? If you’re not completely committed to taking in the information, there’s a good chance it won’t stick.

Prioritizing your professional development

When deadlines loom and works feels chaotic, it’s easy to push professional development off as something you’ll tackle “when things calm down.”

Not so fast. When work is at a fever pitch is exactly when you need to be armed with the most cutting edge knowledge possible.

Setting professional development goals you’ll adhere to no matter what gets thrown your way is paramount. Commit to attending a set number of webinars or trainings every month and stick to it.

The world is moving at a faster pace than ever. Charities and their needs are changing faster than ever. What worked 10 years ago may not work today. Professional development helps ensure that knowledge and skills stay relevant and up to date. I think of it as sharpening the tools in my toolbox.

Robert Thomas of Morgen Thomas Fundraising.

If your professional development budget is thin, seek out free or low-cost events.

One common pitfall is to only attend trainings hyper relevant to our immediate work. Future-proofing your skills is one of the most effective ways to stay resilient. For example, if you’ve never dealt with a legacy programme, consider participating in a webinar on building an effective bequest toolkit. It’ll give you insight into your legacy team members’ work while giving you a deeper understanding of this income stream.

This may seem counterintuitive. Yet, in 2021 everyone on your team needs to be prepared to pinch hit.

What would you do if half of your fundraising department were made redundant and you were tasked with picking up the pieces? Do you have enough understanding of your colleagues’ work to step into their shoes with little notice?

If not, it may be time to brush up your skills in some areas you haven’t needed to delve into recently.

Get qualified

The idea of attending a random smattering of fundraising conferences and webinars may seem like a haphazard way to sharpen your skill set.

That’s where a qualification or certification can come into play. Certifications have a trove of benefits, including:
– Measuring your knowledge against industry-accepted best practices
– Covering knowledge proven to make a difference to fundraising success
– Helping you identify and address gaps in your fundraising knowledge
– Enabling you to stand out on the job search
– Providing tangible leverage when negotiating your salary, title, and responsibilities

A solid certification’s structure is designed for professionals who need to use what they learned straightaway in their day-to-day roles. Before you’ve completed a certification course, you can begin applying what you’re learning along the way to your work. How’s that for an immediate pay off?

The upfront cost of a certification may instill momentary sticker shock (especially if your employer won’t cover the cost). Remember, the price of professional development is an investment that will pay dividends over the length of your career.

Certification holders often command premium salaries and packages, making time spent getting certified well worth the effort.

A global fundraising certification

For fundraising professionals with a global focus on their career or who work for a charity with branches abroad, earning an internationally-recognised certification is a savvy step. This can also be a smart avenue if you want assurance your fundraising approach is aligned with internationally accepted best practices.

No matter what your motivation is, a global certification can help you stand head and shoulders above others in your field.

The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification is one option and currently held by over 7,000 fundraising professionals worldwide.

The CFRE process consists of an application and exam. The 200-question, multiple-choice exam measures your knowledge across six key knowledge domains:

  • Current and prospective donor research
  • Securing the gift
  • Relationship building
  • Volunteer involvement
  • Leadership and management
  • Ethics, accountability, and professionalism

As a fundraising consultant, achieving my CFRE enabled me to benchmark and boost my knowledge. In a fast-changing world, it’s ensured I am in the best possible position to help my clients.

Sian Newton – Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants

Make a start

Whether you’ve been fundraising for five months or 15 years, making time for your professional development is wise. After all, our industry isn’t static.

Fundraising professionals who have taken the time to keep their knowledge fresh will be the leaders best equipped to help their clients and organisations thrive long into the future.  

Written by Ashley Gatewood – CFRE International

Tips for a Strong Case for Support

What is it?

A Case for Support is often the most difficult hurdle to starting a fundraising campaign. What do you say? How long should it be? What is the pitch? It is very often the first impression potential donors have of your client’s vision and campaign, and is therefore a document that clients will often rely on their fundraising consultant’s expertise to get right.

Clients will typically want to tell their whole story, but it is important to understand that this is a short and sharp document. It needs to concisely coalesce the facts that make the project or organisation worthwhile, and should be presented in a way that ensures potential donors, sponsors and funders can swiftly understand the benefits of the project or organisation and how they can provide support. In other words, it is the written version of your elevator pitch: it will set out what is urgent and compelling about the project and why it needs financial support. The Case for Support should not be longer than three A4 pages. It tells the story behind your client, their project and ambitions, and makes the case for fundraising. It is crucial that it is written well and thoroughly peer reviewed within the organisation before bringing it to an external audience.

How can it go wrong?

As a campaign unfolds, the Case for Support can be amended and developed in order to better reflect recent developments, and to incorporate the feedback received from potential donors throughout a campaign. However, it is often easy to fall into the trap of creating multiple documents! Whilst you of course want to tailor this important document to appeal to key donor constituencies, it is important to stay on message and not veer away from the strategic goals, aims and messages of your campaign.

What works?

Begin your Case for Support with a strong opening – you want to capture the potential donor’s attention, so it is critical that the document sets the scene. It is equally important to say how much the campaign is trying achieve, and to lay out these key goals and objectives in a clear way

A common mistake clients often make is forgetting to include a breakdown of how donations would be allocated and what they would be used for. Would you make a large donation without knowing where it went? Try to be as specific as possible.

Finally, do not forget to mention how donors can be recognised for their support. Many UK charities often assume that their donors, unlike their American counterparts, do not like to be recognised, but this is often not the case. Exploring creative options for recognising donors and setting these out in the Case for Support can not only help with your current campaign, but may result in more donor interest and increased support over time. We know from years of experience that a little flattery can often go a long way!

Written by Apple Fundraising Consultants

Why join the AFC?

With the Covid-19 pandemic directly impacting UK philanthropy across multiple sectors – including the arts, education, heritage and churches to name just a few – many donors have stated that they are currently directing their limited resources towards supporting their existing grantees, and are not considering new applications. Furthermore, numerous trusts and foundations have already diverted a significant proportion of their available funding towards emergency grants to address immediate relief efforts related specifically to the pandemic; at the same time, many prospective corporate supporters are conserving their financial resources in the face of an uncertain global economic outlook.

This situation has put additional pressure on professional fundraisers to continue to deliver the same level of results for their clients, who need help more than ever during these highly unusual and uncertain times. Coupled with the recent loss of EU funding following Brexit, the UK donor pool has become saturated with requests for funding, with competition for limited resources becoming fiercer than ever before.

The need for fundraising consultants has therefore never been more urgent.

Charities are always looking for creative and new ways to raise funds; accordingly, the appetite for professional help continues to grow exponentially. Yet, as the pool of fundraising consultants in the UK also steadily expands, it is becoming crucial for prospective clients to be able to distinguish between those consultants that have the right experience and who follow good practice, and those that don’t. Membership of the Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC) therefore serves as the best way of distinguishing yourself. The AFC takes enormous pride in accepting only the most experienced and qualified fundraising companies and individuals into its ranks, so this membership will provide assurance to prospective clients that you represent a safe pair of hands: the AFC’s ‘stamp of approval’ which can be included on its members’ websites and client pitches provide testimony to the high quality of services you are offering. The AFC provides the vehicle to make your consultancy stand out!

Although online forums continue to provide a useful resource, fundraising consultancy can often be a lonely and siloed job. Personal interactions tend to mostly be client focused, with limited opportunities for collaboration among peers, or the sharing of ideas and fundraising trends, or learning about new client opportunities. This can especially be true when you are just one of thousands of members of an online forum! However, membership of the AFC does provide this much-needed personal interaction. Under the leadership of Caroline Hutt, Managing Director of Hutt and Co, who serves as the chair of the AFC, the AFC has been reinvigorated with new leadership, new members, and new ideas. It is a lively and cooperative association which champions and supports its members.

Apple Fundraising Consultants, which joined the AFC in 2018, is a boutique consultancy specialising in high-net-worth international fundraising, campaign management, bespoke event management for local and global clients, and tailored philanthropic advisory services that help high-net-worth individuals make the most of their charitable giving. As a fundraising consultancy with a unique niche in the market, Apple Fundraising has seen the benefits of AFC membership first-hand, having had the opportunities to work alongside our fellow AFC members on large scale international campaigns, and having made numerous top-rate professional contacts among other fundraising consultancies whose work complements our own. We frequently benefit from the knowledge and experience of the other members who specialise in different niches, and have learned a great deal from the AFC’s sessions and workshops which are scheduled regularly throughout the year.

More than anything since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the AFC has provided an important professional support network in these most isolating and challenging times. At the start of the lockdown in March 2020, the AFC immediately pivoted to online networking and information events, enabling its members as leaders in the industry to frankly discuss the immense challenges facing the charitable sector. Now that the UK has set a roadmap to emerge from the lockdown, and restrictions are beginning to ease, the charitable sector is seeing a ‘reawakening’ with new fundraising campaigns and initiatives in the pipeline. The AFC stands ready to support its members as we all help our clients achieve their aspirational fundraising targets while navigating our businesses towards the post-lockdown future.

If you believe you or your company share the AFC’s ethos and commitment, and if you meet the criteria for joining, we would be delighted to discuss membership of the AFC with you. Full details can be found on our website at https://afc.org.uk, or by contacting our administrator Karen Harkin on karen@afc.co.uk.

We do hope you will join us.

Written by Apple Fundraising Consultants

Apple Fundraising Consultants

So What’s Wrong with Commission-Based Fundraising?

Payment by commission is defined as a professional fundraiser receiving, as remuneration for their services, a percentage or ‘cut’ of the funds they raise. In order to cover likely costs of salary and other expenses, a commission-based fundraiser would typically require 15% of the funds raised from their campaigns. Therefore, if a commission-based fundraiser secured a gift of £500,000 for their charity, they would expect payment of £75,000; if they raised £0, they would not expect to receive any payment.  

As a ubiquitous tool in commerce and an established practice in many other sectors, why don’t all fundraisers take a slice of the funds they raise? Surely it is a win-win: charities give away a slice of money they couldn’t have raised anyway, and fundraisers are incentivized to aim high?

Although commission-based fundraising (CBF) is practiced in the UK, within the sector it is broadly considered to be unethical and a sign of bad practice.

Why? 

  1. Money over mission –CBF encourages the pursuit of short-term success and personal gain at the expense of the charitable mission. 1,2
  2. Trust –CBF could undermine the trust of donors.1 This commercial approach is a disincentive to giving, does not properly reflect the value of the service provided, and encourages opportunistic and damaging fundraising practice.
  3. Team effort –fundraising involves a multitude of people working together. It would be challenging to correctly assign credit for revenue to a specific individual at the expense of another. 1
  4. Resentment –including both commission and non-commission-based roles within the same non-profit organisation could generate bitterness among individuals. 1
  5. Disproportional –the amount of work needed to secure a donation is often not directly associated with the amount received: CBF could poorly reflect the expertise and effort provided by the fundraiser.1
  6. Practicality –there are guidelines that make it almost impossible to conduct a successful major gifts campaign based on the practice of CBF. 4,5
  7. Legality – if a fundraiser were to be paid by commission, they may find themselves in breach of the Charities Act 2011. 4,5
  8. Accreditation – the practice of CBF is a barrier to membership of nearly all Fundraising Professional Bodies in both the UK and USA.

Sources:

[1]   WeConservePA – Commission-Based Compensation for Fundraising

[2]   Standards for Excellence Institute – Beware of Fundraisers Who Seek a Commission

[3]   The Association of Fundraising Consultants – Code of Practice

[4]   Cabinet Office – Charitable Fundraising: Guidance on Part 2 of the Charities Act 1992

[5]   Fundraising Regulator – Professional fundraisers, commercial participators and partners

Written by Nicole Gray Conchar – Apple Fundraising Consultants

Celebrating Charity 25 years of ups and downs in fundraising

2020 will be a memorable year for many reasons but for Hampshire-based fundraising consultants and AFC member Stefan Lipa Consultancy, it marks a quarter-century of helping charities to raise money for both landmark and community projects.

Over that period, they have helped charity groups raise funds for projects including: conservation and development work in Norwich Cathedral and the Oxford Oratory; refurbishing Winchester Theatre Royal; building a new facility for Rose Road, a disability services and support group in Southampton; setting up a new agricultural research charity – Innovation for Agriculture, and funding for their projects; as well as enabling the National Youth Wind Ensemble to travel to the Far East on a concert tour. They calculate that Stefan Lipa Consultancy has helped raise around £100 million for good causes in that time.

Covid-19 has unfortunately forced the consultancy to cancel plans to mark their business silver jubilee but they remain upbeat. Managing Director, Stefan Lipa, has seen national, and global, economic crises come and go over the years, not least the 2008 credit crunch, but despite the severity of the current recession, Stefan is seeing some green shoots in the voluntary sector having taken on some new clients recently. “This shows real optimism for the future,” said Stefan. “Charities are looking for new income streams to get going again, but it’s about taking one step at a time and that’s where we can help them.”

The landscape for charities will continue to be challenging as many of them have relied on running events or renting out premises to raise funds, all of which has been suspended during lockdown. However, Stefan also believes that the charity sector is adapting.

“Charities are having to do things differently, said Stefan. “We can see that with the way they’ve moved effortlessly to things like Zoom, but they are also looking at new ways to fundraise and are already starting campaigns.”

This year has thrown up numerous challenges for the business and voluntary sector alike, as well as enterprises which straddle both. However, Stefan looks forward to a positive, if different, future continuing to help charities add to the fabric of the nation and to society. We wish Stefan and Anna a Happy 25th Business Anniversary!

The Benefits of Fundraising Qualifications

As fundraising consultants, it is vital that we are as knowledgeable as possible if we are to present ourselves to clients as experts in our field.  Therefore, the value and importance of qualifications is always a topic close to our hearts.  Choosing the right qualifications for our particular work can prove challenging as we consider a range of factors including:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • How the qualification is delivered
  • Exams
  • Universal recognition for the qualification
  • Increase business

The AFC recently hosted an online webinar with three guest speakers who have expert knowledge of various qualifications, namely Ashley Gatewood of the CFRE (Certificate of Fund Raising Executives), Dr Beth Breeze from the University of Kent and Dr Claire Routley from the Institute of Fundraising

Ashley Gatewood, the communications and marketing manager for the CFRE International, opened the discussion after the Chair of the AFC, Caroline Hutt, introduced her and the other speakers.

Ashley is based in the United States but did her final year of university at Brunel in Oxford. The Certified Fund Raising Executive certification is the only internationally recognised, accredited certification for fundraising professionals. This means that should your work take you to another country then the qualification will remain valid without you having to complete any other elements. The CFRE debuted in 1981 and has a great track record as an independent third party that validates your experience and knowledge.

There are more than 7,100 CFRE’s in 25 countries proving that the CFRE certification is not just an ‘American’ certification.

In order to become a CFRE you must meet the following requirements:

  • Worked for 36 months in the last 5 years in a paid professional fundraising role and had clients throughout that entire period.
  • Accumulated 80 points of education/training (webinars do count as training for these purposes):
    • 1 point = 1 hour of training
    • 2 points = 1 hour presenting fundraising material
    • 10 points for a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree
  • Be on a team that raised at least US $1.375 million in the last 5 years. If you cannot meet this particular requirement, then there are other ways to satisfy this such as with communications and management projects.

Application can be made online at www.cfre.org, and payment is only taken when your application is submitted. The regular cost is US $875. However, as a member of the AFC, the cost reduces to US $700 (a 20% discount). The CFRE examination consists of 200 multiple choice questions that can be taken at one of over 25 test centres around the UK (pearsonvue.com/cfre). The test is not currently available online. It is a global exam that must be completed within 4 hours and requires a pass rate of 500 out of a possible 800.  It is estimated that you will need between 40 and 80 hours of study time.  Currently, 80% of candidates pass the test. 

CFRE certification does not automatically mean that you gain more business, particularly as many organisations in the UK are unfamiliar with the qualification.  Nevertheless, when it is explained that, as a CFRE, you have been formally recognised by the only accredited worldwide fundraising certification it often gains the confidence of potential clients.

Dr Beth Breeze took to the virtual stage next. Beth is based at the University of Kent in Canterbury and is the Director of the Centre of Philanthropy, which she also co-founded in 2008. Beth delivers an MA in Philanthropic Studies. She has worked as a fundraiser and charity manager for 10 years prior to co-founding the Centre and, in that time, she took her Introduction to Fundraising and her Certificate of Fundraising which was, at that time, a CIFM completed through the Open University.

The University of Kent offers a Master’s degree in philanthropic studies. Beth established the course because it is what she wished had existed when she was a fundraiser. She knew at the time that research was going on but either couldn’t gain access to it or, if she could, she couldn’t find anyone to discuss it with. People join the course for a variety of reasons: some join because they want to study further and others because they have been told they need a Master’s in order to progress further in their career.

The course is designed to fit around people who work or who have personal commitments. It is fully online, even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. The course has videos, webinars and live interactions to keep students motivated. The campus in Canterbury is beautiful and, in normal times, students on the course are considered full members of the University and are able to use the library and attend events. Normally, there is two-day induction course although this year everyone attended online.  There is also a study day once a month.

Some students never physically attend the University itself, especially those who are signed up for the course from abroad.  However, the lecturers still feel they know all their students well despite never meeting some of them face-to-face, as technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has changed the world and the way in which we interact with each other.

Beth is joined in delivering the course by permanent staff members Dr Ali Body (Director of Studies) and Dr Lesley Alborough (Pears Research Fellow) and between them they have written many of the main books that are essential course reading.

Beth gave a little shout out to Donna Day Lafferty from the University of Chichester, who was also attending the AFC webinar, as they are currently writing the Fundraising Reader together.  This is the fundraising version of the Philanthropy Reader and will soon be a core text on the course.

Beth and her team also draw on associates, honorary fellows and guest lecturers so that the students have access to all the latest ideas, thinking and research.

The course content includes:

  • Fundamentals of Philanthropy
  • The Art and Science of Fundraising
  • Volunteering and Society
  • Advising Donors
  • Global Philanthropy
  • Research Methods
  • A 12,000 word dissertation

This content is covered in six taught modules and they also teach students how to conduct a piece of original research which leads to a dissertation. The University is very lucky to benefit from the involvement of the Pears Foundation who currently pay for the staff to teach this course and Blackbaud who provide some scholarships.

If you complete the whole of the course then you will gain a Master’s degree, but there is also the option to do a Diploma which is just the six taught modules without a dissertation or a Certificate which involves the completion of three of the six taught modules. Often students dip their toe in with a Certificate first and then they get the bug and upgrade to a Diploma or the full MA.  Graduation is celebrated regardless of the course studied and takes place at the glorious Canterbury Cathedral.

Thinking about studying one of these courses but not sure then why not trial before you commit with the MA in a Day, which gives you an insight, via the University’s website at https://research.kent.ac.uk/philanthropy/home/ma-in-a-day/ . The topics reflect content covered in the course and for each topic there is free access to a lecture, reading and further resources such as podcasts, data sources and practitioner guides.  Topic choices are:

Topic 1: Fundamentals of Philanthropy

Topic 2: The Art and Science of Fundraising

Topic 3: Volunteering and Society

Topic 4: Major Donor Fundraising

Topic 5: Working with Donors and Supporters

The MA in a Day was actually designed as a result of Covid-19 in order to help fundraisers get access to some free training during these difficult times. It has remained on the website to help give a greater insight into the course.

Finally, Dr Claire Routley took to the virtual stage.  She has worked in fundraising for 12 years and specialises in legacy fundraising. Claire has completed a Ph.D. on why people choose to leave legacies to charities and was invited by the AFC to talk about the Institute of Fundraising’s (IoF) qualification and the course the IoF runs.

Claire is a fundraising consultant and splits her time between that and teaching for the IoF. Claire described the certificate, diploma and advanced diploma provided by the IoF, but then went on to talk about fundraising apprenticeships, which will be available from October. These apprenticeships might be of interest if you are working with smaller charities that might find having a fundraising apprentice useful and affordable.

The IoF’s Certificate in Fundraising is the most well-known fundraising qualification within the organisation and is where the IoF has its largest number of students. Summing up the certificate, it teaches students to write good fundraising strategies. Students that sign up for the certificate qualification are often 18 months to 2 years into their fundraising careers and want to help formalise their practice. Claire believes that the core skills taught at this level are essential in helping people advance in their fundraising careers. The qualification teaches modules and processes that can be used now and will also be the fundamentals to be used as your career progresses.

The Diploma in Fundraising is designed for people that are at a management level. Summing up the diploma, it gives breadth of knowledge around the different fundraising streams and the ability to manage those streams and employ good practice within them. There is also a separate module dedicated to fundraising management. Claire feels this is really important as often people become good at fundraising and get promoted but then lack any management training, which requires entirely different skills. The management module covers such things as communication, motivation and leadership.

Probably the most interesting qualification for fundraising consultants who have been practicing for a few years is the International Advanced Diploma in Fundraising which is a Master’s level course. In brief, the course teaches you how to place fundraising at the centre of your organisation. It covers how to navigate the internal situation and how to change things such as power and influence. Claire found that when she originally did the course it was a real game-changer for her seeing how directors work at a senior level.

Both the Certificate and the Diploma can be taught face-to-face (or via Zoom during the current climate) or it can be 100% online with recorded lectures. All the courses expect approximately a day a week studying in terms of time commitment.

The overall benefits of the IoF courses are that you are gaining a qualification from a chartered organisation and they are based in good solid academic practice. Together with the other courses mentioned by the CFRE and the University of Kent all the courses are ideal for personal development and growth.

Following the speakers, the floor was opened to a Q&A session.

Q1. Is there any research to show that having the CFRE qualification or one of the other qualifications is valued by UK charity employers?

Ashley from the CFRE said that she didn’t believe that at this point there is massive awareness amongst charity employers within the UK of the CFRE, although there is definitely some. The CFRE do see many of those taking their qualification working for employers who also have their CFRE. They are encouraged to sign up for the certification by those who already have it as they are able to see the benefits, and also realise that the certification fills in any gaps in their fundraising knowledge. The test covers six key areas related to donor-centric fundraising.

Beth stated that having a Masters matters to some employers. Beth then turned the question on its head and said that when employers value their employees, they encourage them to undertake these types of courses.

Claire answered from the IoF perspective that often the certification is seen as a desirable rather than a must-have.

Q2. Who accredits the CFRE and at what level is the accreditation?

The CFRE has been accredited since 2017 by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute/International Organisation for Standardisation).

The accreditation has to be re-applied for every two years and is a very rigorous process.

Q3. What type of qualifications do students have before they come to do the MA at the University of Kent?

Normally people have a first degree in any subject although this isn’t compulsory.

When someone has not got a first degree, they would be asked to submit a piece of writing to demonstrate their ability. Often people are nervous about embarking on the Masters as it has been a long time between their first degree and now.

Q4. How many hours of study is required for the MA course?

Beth described the course as ‘lumpy’ with one week’s workload being completely different from the next week’s, resulting in some people doing a lot one week and not so much another week. This can partly be a result of how interested someone is in the topic being covered. There is an hour of video lectures (normally made up of two or three short videos), a couple of core readings and an online forum that people can join in. It generally involves more hours work in a week if an essay is due unless you are very well organised. Realistically it can absorb anything from one to ten hours a week of your time.

Q5. Claire, do you know what universities are offering the fundraising apprenticeships?

Claire was unsure about any universities offering this qualification, but the role of the IoF for the fundraising apprenticeships is to be an end point assessor. The IoF course would be a level 3 qualification so not a university degree level course.

Beth spoke about fundraising degree apprenticeships and said that it is something that the University of Kent would really like to offer, and that the best thing about them is that the fees are paid from the apprenticeship levy which all companies with more than £1 million on their annual payroll have to pay. However, Covid-19 and furlough has meant that the University of Kent has taken the decision not to offer a fundraising degree apprenticeship this year, as delegates would have to take on a new appointment and the current situation would make this difficult.

Donna Day Lafferty agreed that fundraising degree apprenticeships in this field are desperately needed.

Q6. Have any of the consultants found that having one of these qualifications helps in terms of winning new clients?

Caroline Hutt, Chair of the AFC, replied that having the CFRE certification had honed her skills.  She appreciated that over the years it has become easier to requalify, which is required every three years (although not the test). Caroline’s company, Hutt & Co, works in the education sector and she finds her clients respond well to qualifications. Although her clients had not heard of the CFRE initially they did google the organisation when she mentioned them.

Natasha Roe from Red Pencil has found that for some clients it does help whilst for others it has not made a difference. Much depends on the type of clients/projects. Natasha has a Master’s from the business school, formerly known as CASS, in marketing and fundraising, the IoF Diploma and is a chartered marketeer.

Claire commented that, although people may not be looking for certain qualifications, doing a higher-level course with a dissertation can help build your profile within the sector as it markets you as an expert. It is also a useful tool to have when undertaking public speaking engagements at conferences.

Natasha has found that by speaking about her dissertation she has now earned, through commission, the actual cost of doing her degree.

Beth re-iterated that everyone should look around and find the course that best suits them and one that is delivered in a manner that will suit their lifestyle and commitments.

Donna has had reports back from her graduates that, although is doesn’t always mean that they get the job, having the qualification is getting them an interview at the very least. This includes those that have worked for fundraising consultancies as well as those who have worked for charities. Donna believes that having qualifications like the ones spoken about today, and those that she helps deliver, help you to stand out.

Bill King of the IFC has currently just completed the first year of his Master’s. He said that one of his motivations for starting the course was because the IFC go for international contracts with big NGO’s (non-governmental organisations) and UN (United Nations) agencies. They frequently demand that the project lead has a Master’s level qualification at the very least. They don’t seem to care what the Master’s is actually in, but they do require that level of qualification. Bill is hoping that by gaining his Master’s it will help him win clients in years to come.

Q7. Are the IoF qualifications benchmarked to higher education? Do you know what level they are mapped to as it was mentioned that the International Diploma is Master’s level?

Claire responded that the apprenticeships are level 3. The certificate is level 4, the diploma is level 5 and the advanced diploma is equivalent to a Master’s which is a level 7 qualification.


Q8. Beth asked everyone what puts people off doing the qualifications?

Bonnie of Bonnie Clayton Consulting commented that she had done modules of the IoF certificate years ago as a young fundraiser at Scope as they offered it as an inhouse course. Although Bonnie did a degree and a CIM diploma (Chartered Institute of Marketing) she has never actually done any formal fundraising qualifications and doesn’t feel that this has hindered her in her career. She feels that she would struggle to fit in studying as a mum of two and working full-time. Bonnie said if she were to do one of the qualifications it would be more out of interest, to develop her knowledge and to feel that she would be doing a better job as a fundraising consultant rather than because she needed to have a qualification. Hearing what everyone has to say has definitely sparked her interest to do some more learning, but the amount of time commitment and when is definitely her main concern.

Caroline agreed that time is the main issue. Running your own consultancy normally is a full time job so the question is when do you find the time to do the necessary studying.

Bill confirmed that it hasn’t taken up as much time as he thought it would during this first year of his Master’s although he confirmed that, as he has worked in the industry for 20 years, he is not coming into this without any knowledge. The essays take the longest amount of time, but he has learned an awful lot during his first year despite his existing knowledge and experience within the fundraising sector. Bill acknowledged that it is a big commitment though.

Donna said that when she did her Master’s degree in social science research methodology, which was a new topic for her, she was also setting up the degree course for the University of Chichester and estimated that it took her a day a week.  However, on weeks when an essay was due, she did beg her family not to cross the threshold of the room on that particular weekend. Donna found it an intense two years but came out of it ‘like her brain was on fire’.

Natasha commented that often you are able to use a client’s project to do research and gain knowledge to form the basis of an essay or assignment.  This gave the client some “added value” for their strategy without them being charged for it so everybody won.

Claire Nethersole of CN Fundraising said that when she first started fundraising no-one had qualifications and family commitments would have made it difficult. However, at the present time, she feels it might build confidence and confirm whether she actually knows it all and is doing the best by her clients or whether there is more that she could do.


Q9. Caroline asked what support is out there for those who are studying?

Ashley said there is a UK ambassador so there is a person to contact if you want to talk one to one regarding the CFRE qualification. There are also a host of free materials on the CFRE’s website.  All the courses people attend can be added to the CFRE application form so that it is ready to submit when candidates have the required number of points. There is a practice exam which can be taken, which you do have to pay for, but is pretty affordable and is an effective way to measure your baseline knowledge so that, when it comes to studying, you know which areas will require more time. The CFRE run a lot of webinars which also help.

Beth commented that the reality of online teaching means that emails reach you at any hour of the day. WhatsApp groups also help with keeping in contact and the lecturers certainly don’t want people feeling isolated. Having said that, Beth realises that some people do not want that level of contact and interaction and the lecturers have to learn to accept that. It is often a judgement call as to what people are looking for and then having meaningful interactions that do not waste time. They also bring other people in to talk about relevant projects and share knowledge.

If you would like to know more about any of these qualifications then please look at the information provided by the speakers’ institutions via the following links.

CFRE – https://www.cfre.org/certification/

University of Kent – https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/769/philanthropic-studies

IoF – https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/events-and-training/qualifications/

The Association of Fundraising Consultants hope that the above has been informative and useful in helping you to decide whether or not to apply to do any additional qualifications that would benefit you and your consultancy.

Tea & Cake

Who can resist the prospect of the great British cuppa and a slice of scrumptious cake?

Not many judging by the attendance at the latest Association of Fundraising Consultants’ remote session. The session was originally planned to be held in London where we could all meet at a lovely location in Pall Mall.  However, as with so many other meetings around the world, we had to adapt due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Tea & Cake took on a whole new dimension as it was held via Zoom. The downside was obvious – everyone had to supply their own tea and cake! However, the upside was that everyone got to reconnect for a great interactive discussion. Munching upon cookies, healthy brownies and slices of Victoria sponge, the conversation began around how consultancies were coping, the changes they had made and clients’ perception of the situation and attitudes to continuing and/or starting new fundraising initiatives.

One consultant got the conversation started by sharing how their clients are still very active. Their consultancy looked at Covid contingency plans for each client including funding plans, emergency funders, using the Covid Response Facebook group and LinkedIn as helpful resource tools. It became clear that clients all had differing opinions on whether they thought it was ethical to seek emergency funding particularly with the NHS requiring so much financial support.

Members had also been looking at ideas for virtual fundraising including the 2 Point 6 Challenge. This will potentially be most useful for those that have nothing set up as yet.

Some fundraising appeals have shown a significant rise in income with one charity for the homeless doing much better than normal since the pandemic.   Another charity for green spaces has also gained tremendous lot of support which may be due to everyone using and appreciating these spaces since lockdown.

The general consensus among everyone attending was that the public has been very responsive to charities especially Cpt Tom Moore who has raised over £30 million and has now got to No.1 in the UK charts.

However, one member asked if the efforts of Cpt `Moore has had a detrimental impact on the fundraising efforts of other charities? Other consultants mentioned that the NHS is not a charity as it is funded by the Government.  Were the monies raised going where the public expected them to go?

Some members mentioned that donation via direct debits have been cancelled since the pandemic took a grip, given threats to jobs and uncertainty within the workplace.

For some consultancies and charities, people have been furloughed making it difficult for charities to continue. Some charities will not have donor stewardship operating and so that all-important relationship-building and communication will be missed.

One consultancy reported a projected decline of 30% short term. Another consultancy predicted not seeing a return to any kind of normality until October at the earliest. Where consultants are dealing with schools and universities, they are predicting that things will not get back to normal until all students return on site and get back to something of a normal routine.   Members did not think this will happen until the start of the next academic year at the very earliest and those appeals that are already in progress will get played out in September with feasibility studies also being done then. Organisations will need to adapt their plans accordingly, including the spec of their building and the timing of completion.

Covid is driving businesses to operate online. Some tasks can be carried out perfectly well online but for others such as capital fundraising consultants have preferred to delay campaign activities until face-to-face meetings are possible again. Consultants are working hard on the behind-the-scenes activities for appeals.

Consultants agreed that online meetings will probably become more common in future. Some countries, such as USA. seem to be very open to digital meetings.

Some consultants have seen an influx of trust and donations, and others have been overloaded with companies offering to help which in turn can hamper sticking to the strategies of charities.

Those charities that rely heavily on large events that they have planned throughout the year will now be struggling to replace the earnings from these with online events. One charity given as an example is Macmillan.

There have been some real positives that have arisen from the current situation for consultants including the increase in personal contact via the use of the telephone. This, in turn, is great for developing relationships and finding common ground. Existing major donors seem, on the whole, to have been receptive to a chat on the phone.

The important issue for all the consultants was to listen to their clients and do what the client requires and be prepared to readjust plans, schemes and timelines.

There will always be advantages arising from a crisis so it is essential not to miss them. Marketing within the current climate is vital according to many consultants although it may be that different strategies are used such as people at home telemarketing could be a good investment whilst ensuring GDPR is followed. Consultants need to continue to be authentic and their messages need to convey this, abiding by the AFC’s codes of practice.  

Hospice consultants have seen the public and companies alike be very generous with PPE being donated and many new first-time fundraisers each doing their small part for their chosen charities, which is always great news for the fundraising sector.

Sharing information seems to have increased within the fundraising world as everyone tries to help everyone else. The online world has become somewhat crowded with invitation after invitation to webinars and seminars although the attendance of some is not great. If anyone is considering offering a session online, make sure the content is unique and purposeful. Training for this online environment was noted as an area that would be helpful for many people around the world. People have been thrown into operating virtually with often little understanding and limited experience. There can be bonuses to this as nobody has had time to spend worrying about how to operate this way. How to train trustees to operate online is also an issue that was raised. The best advice given for all online activities is to always involve everyone and to keep asking questions as this ensures that people stay engaged and alert. Practice online is virtually a certainty given the current climate, so don’t be scared of it as most people are in the same boat as you. It could become a forum that will be increasingly used in the future as discussed earlier.

A lot of consultancies experienced knee jerk reactions from clients at the start of lockdown but many have since realised that they operated with a panic reaction and have since been in talks about how they can proceed now and no one reported having clients cancel, they may have deferred, but none cancelled which is great news.

With all of the above discussed and everyone safe and well it was time to swig down the last sip of tea and to hide the empty plate before ending the meeting on Zoom. Now for an hour’s exercise to burn off all those wonderful additional calories!

Working from Home

UK Fundraising Professional Sian Newton on the Value of Earning a Fundraising Certification

Sian Newton became a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in early 2020 and has had a two-decade career fundraising in the UK.

The CFRE certification is the only globally-recognised, accredited certification for fundraising professionals. By holding the CFRE, each certificant shows they have demonstrated their understanding of globally-accepted best practice fundraising principles.

Sian has worked for some of the UK’s most well-known charities, including the British Red Cross. Here, she shares her insights on the value of consultants holding their CFRE and why seasoned professionals can benefit from earning a fundraising certification.

How did you enter the world of fundraising?
I left university knowing I wanted to work in the not-for-profit sector. I did a research internship for a charity and also some fundraising volunteering and decided that fundraising was right for me!

What is your favorite part about being a fundraising professional?
Working with people from all walks of life to make charitable giving happen. After more than 20 years, it still gives me a great buzz.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Be tenacious and persistent.

What is your personal philosophy about investing in yourself and staying active in your professional development?
I’ve always been proud to be a fundraiser, it’s something I take seriously. One of my favorite phrases is: Onwards and upwards!

How did you first hear about the CFRE certification and what made you decide to pursue it?
I heard about CFRE through my fellow Directors at Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants. There’s a real emphasis on professional standards and excellence and all the other Directors have been through the CFRE process. So, when I became a Director, I decided I wanted to follow in their footsteps. It was a personal challenge.

You’re currently a fundraising consultant. Why do you think it is valuable for consultants to hold an accredited fundraising certification?
Clients come to you for your expertise, knowledge, and experience. Having the certification is another way to demonstrate both the breadth of your knowledge and that it reflects up-to-date best practice.

There are two parts to the CFRE process: an application and exam. When you passed your CFRE exam, how did you feel?
Relieved and very proud.

You earned your CFRE after more than 20 years in the sector. Sometimes professionals believe that with that much experience they don’t need a certification. What advice would you have for fundraising professionals who have been in the sector for years and are on the fence about whether or not to pursue their CFRE?
Learning is a life-long thing. You can build on the knowledge and experience you already have. Go for it!

Remember as an AFC member you receive substantial reductions of fees for CFRE examinations and recertification.

New leadership at Gifted Fundraising Consultants

Release: January 23, 2020.

Amy Stevens steps-up as the Chief Executive of Gifted Philanthropy taking on the leadership of this innovative fundraising consultancy from Andrew Day, who will continue to serve the firm’s growing array of charity clients.

“Amy is an outstanding professional with extensive experience across the third sector.  As one of Gifted’s founding directors, she has led some of our most successful fundraising programmes and is brilliantly equipped to take the Company through its next phase of growth,” says Andrew Day.

Over the past four years Gifted fundraising consultants has drawn on the wide experience of its directors to establish a diverse portfolio of clients, from schools and small rural churches to high-profile and national charities.  Often working in partnership with member organisations like IDPE and NHS Charities Together, Gifted has sought to advance professional standards and widen the understanding of fundraising best-practice across the sector.

“I love the way our business has developed and feel really excited about the opportunities ahead,” says Amy. “I want us to continue working with charities of all shapes and sizes. What matters is their commitment to the projects they believe in and their willingness to embrace all that a Gifted partnership has to offer.”

Amy also says that she’s incredibly grateful to Andrew for leading the company since December 2017 and for the advice and professional support he has given her for over a decade. “The good news is, that whilst our roles will change, the Company will continue to benefit from Andrew’s experience, along with that of fellow director, Chris Goldie.”

A great advocate of Amy’s work in the North, is Darren Grice, Deputy Chief Executive at Link4Life, Rochdale. Darren says, “Working with Amy has been an absolute joy. Her breadth of fundraising experience and laser-focus on meeting the next set of priorities has kept the Dippy on Tour project in the North West, successfully on track. She has confidently grown Gifted’s client-base in the North and also made a huge contribution to its international reach over the past few years. Stepping up to the role of Chief Executive is the natural next step for someone who completely gets the business of philanthropy and consistently delivers on the brief.” He goes on to say, “I wish her all the very best in this next important stage of her career and have no doubt that with Amy at the helm, Gifted’s reputation for creating pragmatic, original and ethical fundraising solutions will continue to go from strength to strength.”

New leadership at Gifted Fundraising Consultants