The AFC is changing and we are hiring!

The AFC has plans to expand and incorporate fundraising freelancers. To make this change possible we are looking to hire a freelancer to assist with growing our membership in its new form.

Our initial requirement is for a freelancer to work 2 days a month for 6 months. Please click the link to find the details of the business development terms of reference – BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT TERMS OF REFERENCE

If you feel that this might be for you, please send in your CV along with a cover letter (max 2 pages) setting out your proposed approach to meeting the brief and why you feel you would be a good fit with the Association of Fundraising Consultants. The email address is

The deadline for applications is the 6th of January 2024.

Telling Your Fundraising Story

In any fundraising endeavour, narrative matters. Too many charities fall at the first hurdle because they rush to ask for gifts before they have developed a clear and persuasive case for support.

Drafting a well argued, securely evidenced case for support is the first step in nearly all fundraising projects. Without this, potential givers will find it difficult to grasp exactly what you’re trying to accomplish or the benefits you’re promising to deliver. So, unless you can share your vision by telling a story that inspires others to get involved, fundraising success is likely to remain firmly out of reach. Here’s our guide to creating a narrative that captures the substance and the spirit of what you want to achieve.

Making your case

First, set the scene by providing a little background to your organisation and the good work it undertakes. Potential givers need to be reassured that your reputation is trustworthy and that your activities have real charitable impact. This means talking about your major achievements, the number of beneficiaries you support, as well as giving key statistics or quotations that underpin and sharpen your case.

Don’t be needy

Next, demonstrate the need, without being ‘needy’. Aside from global emergency appeals resulting from war, famine or natural disasters, in our experience people are rarely moved by charities telling tales of woe and despair. You’ll have a much more captive audience if you express your purpose using the language of opportunity and possibility. And, rather than making potential givers feel overwhelmed by the problem, you’re more likely to convince them that their support will make a real difference to you delivering your charitable goals.

Be clear about the charitable benefits

Finally, tell people what your vision for the future is and how you’ve set about shaping it. People need to appreciate exactly what the benefits are, whether these relate to solving global healthcare problems, transforming education or providing desperately needed community space in your local area.

Remember, big money flows to big visions, that are both urgent and compelling.

By Andrew Day – Gifted Philanthropy

AGM 2017

The Annual General Meeting

for the

Association of Fundraising Consultants

will be held on the 15th December 2017, at

The Potting Shed, 39-40 Dorset Square, Marylebone, London NW1 6QN

@ 12p.m. / All welcome.

If you would like to stand for the committee please forward a biography to

The Agenda:

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of the last AGM
  3. Chair’s Report
  4. Treasurer’s Report
  5. Election of new committee members
  6. Any other business


Please download the minutes from the previous AGM (2016)

Please click here to see a current list of committee members.

Notice Of Director Nomination Form


Is fundraising consultancy a profession and how can charities make sure they receive a professional service? Five questions you should ask.

Stefan Lipa from Stefan Lipa Fundraising Consultancy – I’ve been a fundraising consultant for nearly 30 years and, during this time, I’m proud to say that I’ve helped many charities achieve their fundraising goals and thus enhance the support they offer their beneficiaries. However, according to a recent discussion paper by a fundraising think tank1, fundraising is not a ‘profession’– an assertion which of course I take issue with!

Fundraising consultants provide services, solutions and expert advice to the fundraising sector and I believe that there is a clear distinction between the need for professionalism and the formal professionalization of fundraising consultants.

As with any profession, there are fundraising consultants who are leaders in their field; who set the bar high by offering invaluable skills and experience – promoting best practice and making a tangible difference to charities, their beneficiaries and wider society. I believe that every fundraising consultant should take a genuine interest in the long-term success of their clients and that nobody should be in the profession if their main objective is to make a quick buck.

Maintaining high overall professional standards within the fundraising consultancy sector is ongoing but the large majority of us are effective and offer great value and support to our clients. It is vital that charities base their fundraising consultant recruitment decisions on clear evidence of a consultant’s knowledge, skills and experience rather than relying on letters after their name.

At present, fundraising is governed by requirements in the Charities Acts and the Fundraising Regulator sets and enforces professional standards and a code of practice. In addition, the Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC) gives accreditation to the highest professional standards available in the EU for fundraising consultants. The AFC’s Code of Practice works in tandem with the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Practice. Therefore choosing a fundraising consultant who is a member of AFC will provide confidence to the ‘buyer’ of a certain level of professional standards maintained by the fundraising consultant.

In previous opinion pieces, I have talked to some extent about the roles that fundraising consultants can fulfil and the results that we can help achieve [add links to website]. In this article I have summarised some of the questions you might wish to consider when choosing a fundraising consultant and to make sure they have the relevant skills and experience, as well as the professional approach we would all expect from a fundraising consultant.

  1. Does the fundraising consultant take a holistic view of your charity?

Make sure your consultant appreciates how charities operate. Check that they understand how the fundraising project fits into your charity’s overall strategy; how different departments or components within the charity operate; and that they have a genuine interest and understanding of your charity and beneficiary needs.

  1. Do their proposals provide a fresh perspective and are they realistic?

Ensure your consultant provides a clear, costed, proposal about the work they will undertake and that the proposal has been well-researched to ensure it will deliver on your brief.

Avoid consultants that work on a commission basis, which can be a disincentive to donors and it can lead to conflict and practices that are detrimental to the charity, donor and fundraising consultant. (Click here to read my article on The problem with commission-based fundraising) [add link]

Be careful of consultants that rush in and promise the world based on very little understanding of your charity’s circumstances and objectives. Make sure you are confident that your consultant will deliver; their proposals are researched and well articulated and the outcomes are realistic; they will put your charity’s interests first and use the best fundraising practices.

  1. Do they have the knowledge and experience you are looking for?

Look beyond a fundraising consultant’s qualifications, client list and achievements to understand if they have the right expertise to either complement or plug skill gaps in your charity. Do your due diligence – has the fundraising consultant delivered similar projects in the past? Does he/she have experience in the sector you work in or with charities of a similar size or with similar strategic goals?

Understand how they operate and go about achieving results and their budget and resource parameters. Ask for them to talk you through case studies and past achievements.

  1. How do they work and what is their approach to client work?

Make sure you share the same work ethic. Take references. Don’t just take the consultants word for it, speak to their current and past clients about how the consultant embeds themselves in client work/the client’s organisation.

Ask the consultant about their personal involvement in the sector – do they practice what they preach? For example, I consider fundraising consultancy to be part of who I am. In my spare time I’m a school governor for the Godolphin School in Salisbury (Wiltshire), I’ve previously been a Chair and Board member of the AFC, and I was the founder trustee and chair of the Friends of the Dean Garnier Garden at Winchester Cathedral.

  1. Are they prepared to give constructive advice?

Nobody likes to be told that their strategy is wrong or their plans won’t work. However, it’s important that you are not just told what you want to hear but that your consultant can demonstrate how he/she uses his/her expertise and knowledge to help coach and navigate your charity through change in order to achieve the desired results.


If you’re about to embark on a new fundraising challenge or need some additional support with your fundraising plans, why not get in touch to find out a bit more about how we can help you? Please click here to contact us. 

 Less than my job’s worth: Is fundraising a profession? And does it matter if it isn’t?, June 2017, Rogare

Stefan Lipa Consult for Funds for Norwich Cathedral

What do you have to fear?

With new fundraising regulations on the way, Andrew Day explains why there’s never been a better time to focus on what breathes life into successful major gift strategies. It’s all about the people you know and your ability to reach them.

One of the universal laws of major gift fundraising is that people give to people. They rarely give to causes. Understanding this fundamental principle enables us to cut through much of the hype around potentially restrictive, new fundraising regulations; inviting us to think again about the best approach to major gift philanthropy.

There seems to be a curious level of anxiety across the sector about possible changes to data protection rules, making it difficult for fundraisers to wealth-screen mailing lists and pick off big givers.  From my perspective, the new direction is a healthy one. A change in policy that encourages more thoughtful fundraising and champions best practice in person-centred philanthropy, is something we should all be in favour of.

Do you really know your prospects?

In my experience, the most meaningful prospect evaluations are unlikely to come from a flimsy ‘rich-list’ with no connection to your organisation or project. Knowing your constituency as individuals and carefully assessing their commitment, is at the heart of any sustainable major gift strategy. You need to have a solid understanding of each key prospect’s capacity to give, their inclination to give and their anticipated interest in the project or programme you’re embarking upon.

Access is everything

But generating long-term fundraising success, depends on
the most important ingredient of all; an identifiable route to the prospects you’ve highlighted. Whether it’s your trustees, governors, or fundraising team members – there needs to be personal access to the individuals on your list of potential major givers. Simply churning out the stats and knowing how wealthy people are, won’t be enough. After all, there are lots of well-off people who give nothing. And plenty of those who aren’t so wealthy who still make major gifts, often through their Wills.

So, yes there may be change ahead, but the new regulations could provide a timely reminder that major gift fundraising
is inherently personal. It works on the basis of trust and the strength of relationships that exist between people. Major gift fundraisers should have little to fear from tighter controls on mining the data of strangers.

New Fundraising Regulations

If you would like to discuss or feedback on the above article then please contact the AFC –

The Association of Fundraising Consultants’ Code of Practice: self-regulation and safeguarding organisations that employ fundraising consultants – By Stefan Lipa, Stefan Lipa Fundraising Consultancy

Members of the Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC) are seen as professionals who give the best possible advice to charities seeking funds to support the work of their cause and beneficiaries. The maintenance of high professional standards is crucial to the future of providing much-needed support to charities.

The AFC’s Code of Practice, which works in tandem with the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Practice, reflects the purpose of the AFC and describes the standards that AFC members have agreed to observe. In this article, Stefan Lipa, from Stefan Lipa Fundraising Consultancy, looks at each of the 10 components of the AFC’s Code of Conduct, what the Code means in practical terms for AFC members and how it helps safeguard charities and not-for-profit organisations.

“Members and employees and sub-contracted consultants engaged by members agree to abide by this Code of Practice and its complaints procedure, are committed to the ideals of charitable giving and seek to bring credit to the profession through their conduct. Members will reaffirm their compliance with the Code of Practice each year.”

All members of the AFC are required to abide by the Code of Practice. The Code of Practice is enforced by a complaints procedure by which any relevant person or organization can raise an alleged breach of the Code of Practice. This will be investigated by the AFC with an intention to resolve the issue either by satisfaction of the complainant or by a sanction on the member concerned.

Every few years, the AFC seeks information about practitioner members from several of their respective clients (past and present) to assess their commitment to the ideals of charitable giving and the quality of professional services. Members must sign a document agreeing to abide by the Code of Practice every year when renewing their membership of the AFC.

“Members will make only those claims to experience, qualifications and achievements that can be shown to be genuine and will neither guarantee results nor promise to raise sums that are unrealistic.”

While the first part of this statement appears self-evident, there are nuances that need to be observed. For example, let us assume that a capital campaign with a target of £10 million, achieves its target. A statement by a fundraising consultant saying ‘We raised £10 million’ would likely be untrue. A statement which says: ‘We helped charity x raise £10 million’ would probably be more accurate.

It is impossible for a fundraising consultant to guarantee results truthfully. The outcome of a fundraising campaign cannot be guaranteed and it is influenced by many factors outside the control of the fundraising consultant. This will include:

  • The reputation of the client organisation undertaking the project and its existing relationship with potential donors.
  • The emotive appeal of the project.
  • The commitment of the client organisation to the fundraising campaign.
  • The quality of campaign leadership and the campaign ambassadors.
  • The quality of the potential donors.
  • The quality of the relationship between each campaign ambassador and the potential donor approached by that campaign ambassador.
  • The willingness of each campaign ambassador to make personal approaches
  • The response of potential donors.

If the fundraising consultant avoids guarantees he/she is less likely to promise to raise sums that are unrealistic. In any event, it is not the fundraising consultant who raises the sums of money.

“Members will acquire clients by fair means only, will not offer inducements to prospective clients or apply undue pressure in order to secure assignments.”

The facts of each situation will determine whether a client has been acquired by fair means. This does not prohibit negotiation on price or range of service. Organizations seeking fundraising advice can often be under stress, needing to raise money but having few resources to do so. It is imperative that during negotiations, no undue pressure is applied which takes advantage of an organization’s possibly vulnerable situation.

“Members will serve only those not-for-profit organisations that to the best of their knowledge have aims that are worthy and intentions that are honourable.”

A good start is to ascertain that a charity is registered with the Charity Commission and to read the relevant information about the charity online. Although a fundraising consultant does not need to be a member or supporter of a charity (in fact it could be argued that being too close to the charity might make it difficult for the fundraising consultant to provide objective advice), it will be beneficial to the relationship if the fundraising consultant considers the charity to have worthy aims and honourable intentions. If the fundraising consultant feels that the opposite is true then it is unlikely that he or she would be able to provide the best possible service to the charity.

“Members will promote or employ only those fundraising practices that are not harmful to the public or likely to bring the profession into disrepute.”

Recent history has shown that there are some fundraising practices that are either harmful to the public or perceived to be so. Examples include bombarding potential donors by post or email and harassing people on the streets.

AFC members are expected to be very careful about the advice they give to clients and they should advise against practices that are harmful to the public. In any event, such practices will be detrimental to the charity concerned and will limit its ability to help beneficiaries.

Any practices that are harmful to the public or to charities and their beneficiaries are also detrimental to the fundraising profession and, consequently, could bring the profession into disrepute.

“Employees and sub-contracted consultants engaged by members will have a record of relevant professional experience, and will be managed by experienced practitioners.”

When a charity retains a member of the AFC, the charity is entitled to expect a ‘gold standard’ in fundraising advice – as should be expected from a member of AFC. However, AFC membership is made up of firms which employ individual practitioners who are not themselves members of the AFC (although they may belong to other organizations such as the Institute of Fundraising).

Fundraising practitioners have a wide range of relevant experience and expertise. Relevant professional experience also depends on the degree and quality of supervision and management of the fundraising professional who is in situ.

“Members will deliver professional services based on an agreed letter of appointment that details all the terms of engagement including the service to be provided; the duration of the service; the professional fee and related expenses to be charged; the method of payment, as well as arrangements for review and termination of the appointment.”

This document may be:

  • a formal agreement signed by both parties;
  • terms and conditions of the AFC member (assented to in writing by the charity); or
  • a letter or email from the AFC member agreed to by the charity by letter or email. This document is required by the AFC whether or not a firm is required to enter an agreement under the Charities Act 2006.

The agreement should outline what services will be provided by an AFC member or it may simply refer to a proposal and the date of that proposal issued previously. Often a termination date is specified, with the proviso that the parties can agree a renewal. Sometimes the agreement is stated as being in force until terminated by either party.

The agreement should set out the fee; sometimes an hourly, daily or other rate; or alternatively a set fee for a specific task. All expenses for which a consultant proposes to charge should be included in the document. This would include where appropriate: a mileage rate, travel, accommodation and subsistence etc. The document should specify when fee and expenses payments are due, and how they should be paid.

The document should also provide for:

  • A regular review meeting.
  • An ability for either party to require a review.
  • A provision to terminate a contract in addition to the termination date described above. This should allow both the consultant and the charity to terminate an agreement with a reasonable period of notice, and also an ability to terminate where the consultant is not able to provide the service (e.g. staff problems) and where fees are not being paid on time.

“Professional fees payable for services rendered by members will not be calculated as a percentage of the amount raised, either on a commission or contingency fee basis. This commercial approach is a disincentive to giving, does not properly reflect the value of the service provided and encourages opportunistic and damaging fundraising practices.”

Many potential clients often ask us if it is possible for fees to be paid on a commission or contingency basis – calculated as a percentage of the amount raised. This query is understandable, particularly where a charity is strapped for cash.

If a fundraising consultant is paid as a percentage of an amount given by a donor, it increases the chances of a donor having a negative reaction – he or she may feel they are paying the salary of a fundraising consultant without reference to the value of that service. However if a fundraising consultant is paid on the basis of hours of input and of expertise, it is more likely to be seen as a normal professional cost in the same way as the fees of other professionals engaged by the charity.

It is almost impossible to value the input of a consultant by commission. A donation may be the result of the long-term teamwork of many people within the charity rather than specifically the fundraising consultant. The task of a fundraising consultant is not to ask for money, but to structure a campaign that the charity can implement successfully. The only fair method for the consultant, the charity and the donor, is for an agreed fee to be paid to the fundraising consultant based on their input.

Payment by commission can easily be interpreted (rightly or wrongly) as excessive remuneration. Paying a consultant by commission can also lead to internal dispute and tension involving trustees, officers and volunteers of the charity. If a consultant is paid by commission where trustees and volunteers are fundraising without payment, there is potential for ill-feeling. However if a fundraising consultant is paid for the number of hours of input, on the same basis as officers and other consultants and suppliers, there is less room for problems to arise.

Payment by commission could also encourage bad practice involving advice given under pressure or incorrect advice, putting personal gain ahead of the charitable interests of the donors, the charity and the beneficiaries.

“Members will honour the confidentiality of information to which they are privy when serving clients.”

A fundraising consultant comes into contact with a lot of information about a client. This does not just apply to tangible issues such as finance, future planning, trustees, staff etc., but also the intangible such as internal tensions and politics.

Maintaining confidentiality can be a practical problem for a fundraising consultant when issues arise between the fundraising consultant and the client. At all times, the fundraising consultant must bear in mind the need for a professional approach.

Pursuing a policy of confidentiality is vital to client confidence, not only the current client, but also future clients, who will expect the same treatment, and would be disconcerted by any rumour or publicity which indicates that a fundraising consultant has breached confidentiality.

“Members will take care to avoid any conflict of interest in the provision of service to clients.  All financial relationships between Members and their clients and other involved parties shall at all times be transparent to those involved. Members, who are providing advice to their clients about the purchase of goods and services and recommend particular suppliers, will not accept payment from those suppliers for being so recommended.”

This seems to be an obvious statement, but its application is not always straightforward.

One factor that needs to be taken into account is whether by acting for a particular client, the fundraising consultant is creating a potential problem for another of his or her clients. For example, the fundraising consultant may be advising two churches, schools, museums or theatres in the same area; or there may be two similar clients at opposite ends of the country, both of which might apply to the same very restricted source of potential funding.

The best course of action is transparency. Both the existing client and the potential new client should be given full information about the fundraising consultant’s role with the other relevant clients at the earliest possible opportunity. If either objects, the fundraising consultant needs to think again.

Fundraising consultants are often asked for advice about possible suppliers. It is perfectly reasonable for a client to ask, and part of the fundraising consultant’s professional role is to answer to the best of their ability based on knowledge acquired while advising other clients.

Any advice must clearly be based on previous experience – and no pressure should be applied. It may be helpful if the client considers not only the consultant’s recommendation but also looks at other alternatives. In all cases, the fundraising consultant must not accept payment from any suppliers in return for any recommendation.

If you have any comments about this article, or would like to discuss any of the issues raised, please contact Stefan Lipa at Stefan Lipa Fundraising Consultancy on 01256 698090 and or visit You can also follow us on Twitter @StefanLipa and LinkedIn.

AFC Code of Practice

AFC 2016 Forum – The new regulatory era for fundraising and its implications for consultancy.

Keynote speaker;

Gerald Oppenheim, Head of Policy for the new Fundraising Regulator

Fundraising is in the spotlight and charities are facing unprecedented challenges. The regulatory environment is changing at breakneck speed:

• A new Fundraising Regulator
• The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016
• Forthcoming EU data protection legislation
• Proposals for a Fundraising Preference Service
• On-going concerns of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC)

These all demand greater knowledge and practical oversight of fundraising by trustees, particularly in relation to contracts for professional fundraising services. The forum will highlight;

• What consultants need to know
• How they can prepare themselves for the future environment
• How they can begin to advise their clients now
• How they can make their voices heard in the debate

Monday, 4th July 2016 from 15:15 to 18:15 (BST) followed by networking drinks and optional supper.

National Liberal Club
Whitehall Place

The forum is an ideal opportunity to network with other Fundraising professionals, consultants and industry representatives.


3.15 pm Arrival – tea and coffee

3.30 – 4.00 pm Overview of changes in the regulatory environment

4.00 – 4.30 pm Group discussion: Implications for fundraising consultancy and preparation of questions for the keynote speaker

4.30- 5.00 pm Keynote address; Fundraising regulation and the Fundraising Consultant.

5.00 – 6.00 pm Questions and discussion

6.00 – 6.15 pm Summary and conclusion

6.15 pm Networking drinks and canapés in the Smoking Room followed by (optional) supper (venue tbc).


For all enquiries email Karen Harkin –

AFC 2015 Forum – Money, power, influence – integrity in major gifts consultancy

“Your charity has a strong local supporter base. A local wealthy entrepreneur has offered a substantial personal donation that will make a significant difference to your beneficiaries. You are aware that the entrepreneur is currently applying for planning permission for a contentious redevelopment. What are the issues to be taken into account, when deciding whether to accept the donation?”

This and other scenarios will come under discussion at the AFC¹s Annual 2015 Forum – Money, power, influence – integrity in major gifts consultancy.

Monday, 20 July 2015 from 15:00 to 18:00 (BST) followed by networking drinks and optional supper.

National Liberal Club
Whitehall Place
SW1A 2HE London

The forum is an ideal opportunity to network with other Fundraising professionals, consultants and industry representatives.

Provisional Programme

3.15 pm Arrival – tea and coffee

3.30 – 4.00 pm Keynote address, Rt Revd Graham James the Bishop of Norwich

4.00 – 5 pm Panel, Dr Kevin Fewster, Director of the National Maritime Museum, other members’ tbc

5 – 5.30 pm Challenges in major gifts consultancy. Group discussion of challenging scenarios that arise and ways of addressing these.

5.30 – 6.00 pm Plenary Groups feedback the results of their discussions.

6.15 pm Networking drinks and canapés in the Smoking Room followed by (optional) supper (venue tbc).

Book now –

Or for enquiries email Miranda Aldridge –

Action Planning – Summer School

The Action Planning International Summer School Programme is designed specifically to bring consultants and those aiming to become consultants together in a series of modular workshops. David Saint uses his 25 years of experience & expertise in the not-for-profit consulting sector to deliver a programme designed to meet the needs of professionals regardless of their level of consultancy.

The school has a number of expert guest speakers for everyone to learn from as well as learning from each other and each and everybody’s successes and failures.

David’s summer school aims to give each consultant or aspiring consultant the space, ideas and expert interaction to be able to plan ahead. The school will incorporate many different learning formats and will include Expert Mentoring.


Action Planning

27-31 JULY 2015 or
24-28 AUGUST 2015

Nutfield Priory & Spa Hotel – Surrey RH1 4EL

A 10% discount off course fees for all AFC Members. Please mention that you are an AFC Member when booking for the discount to apply.

The programme is designed to be tailor-made to cater for each and every consultants needs. For more information regarding the course and booking please click here.

AFC Annual Forum 2015

Money, power, influence – integrity in major gifts consultancy

This years keynote speaker will be the Rt Revd Graham James – Bishop of Norwich.

Rt Revd Graham James has been an active member of the House of Lords since 2004. Currently he is Chair of the Ministry Division. This involves him being responsible for both the selection and training of all candidates for ordination.
The Bishop Graham is very much involved in rural issues having served as a Board Member of the Countryside Agency. He is a regular guest on BBC Radio 4’s – Thought of the Day and is currently patron or president to over 30 different organisations.

As part of our panel we will also welcome Dr Kevin Fewster, Director of the National Maritime Museum.
The National Maritime Museum is home to the Royal Observatory and the 17th century Queen’s House. Dr Kevin Fewster was appointed a director in September 2007.
Book Now – for the 20th July 2015 (3.15 – 6.15 p.m.) at the Liberal Club in London.
Come and participate in the AFC Annual Forum and network with other fundraising professionals, consultants and industry representatives.
Provisional Programme
3.15 pm Arrival – tea & coffee
3.30 – 4.00 pm – Keynote Address – Rt Revd Graham James the Bishop of Norwich
4.00 – 5.00 pm – Panel – Dr Kevin Fewster, Director of the National Maritime Museum, other members tbc
5.00 – 5.30 pm – Challenges in Major Gifts Consultancy. Group discussion of challenging scenarios that arise and ways of addressing these.
5.30 – 6.00 pm – Plenary Groups feed back the results of their discussions.
6.15 pm – Networking drinks and canapes in the Smoking Room followed by (optional) supper (venue tbc).
We look forward to seeing you on the 20th July 2015.


AFC Annual Forum 2015