What does benchmarking tell us about the state of UK fundraising?

04 July 2019
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This week at #IoFFC the second edition of the ‘Status of UK Fundraising Benchmarking Report’ was launched. Produced by the Institute of Fundraising, in collaboration with Blackbaud, we explain in this blog what the latest report shows.

While the press release covers some of the headline findings in relation to how fundraisers feel about their role and careers – with 84% saying they enjoyed their job – the full report covers a far wider range of topics. This blog summarises what more we can learn from this research and what this means for fundraising.

How is fundraising performing?

With 56% of fundraisers saying their charity had met or exceeded their fundraising target in the last financial year, despite a challenging fundraising climate, performance may have been stronger than expected for many. Those working with successful organisations believed that growth was primarily driven by innovation, effective resourcing and investment. However, more than half (52%) of respondents whose charities reported a decrease said they did not have enough people with adequate skills.

Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and External Affairs says: “The key to meeting and exceeding fundraising targets is to innovate, plan and invest. Fundraising success is possible, but it very rarely comes of the blue. The charities that are doing well are the ones that are more likely to say that they have the right people, skills and tech to take forward their strategies, as well as trying new and different things.”

What was the impact of GDPR?

Surprisingly perhaps, GDPR doesn’t appear to have been the ‘bogeyman’ that many had feared. The large majority (77%) of fundraisers said GDPR made them think differently about engagement strategies, with less than a third (30%) saying that it had a negative impact on their ability to raise funds. However, almost six in ten said the change in regulations was a drain on their resources.

Fluskey adds: “Undoubtedly, GDPR had an impact and effect last year on time and resources within organisations as they made the changes needed to systems and procedures, as well as staff training, but it’s interesting that the area of biggest impact was in leading charities to think differently about engagement.”

What about digital?

The sector is becoming more digi-savvy, with four out of five respondents saying their charities have a digital strategy. Smaller charities are more likely not to have a digital strategy, but the large majority of respondents (94%) now use social media to communicate with supporters.

Casper Harratt, Director of Marketing at Blackbaud Europe, says: “It’s really interesting to see where organisations are focusing their efforts with regards to digital strategy.

“Not only did 93% of organisations tell us they used Facebook, but 80% said they found their efforts successful over the past year. Digital transformation is driving fundamental change across every industry, and social media is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Harratt anticipates that next year’s survey will need to evolve to explore new developments such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and payments innovations.

What does the future hold?

Without a crystal ball, the future will always be uncertain, and yet half of those questioned anticipate an increase in income. When it comes to the most common challenges, fundraisers identified external factors such as the environment (67%) and public perception (53%).

Fluskey adds: “While there is little that fundraisers can do to change the economy, there are things that we can do to be in the best possible place to respond to external challenges. Having a clear strategy and plan is more important than ever… and trying new and different things is key.”

The full report – proving almost as popular as Blackbaud’s pick and mix sweet stall at Convention – is available here.

Dan Fluskey
Dan Fluskey
Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Institute of Fundraising
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