26th June 2015John Spry
Closing the gap
The Philanthropy Company’s lunch hosted at Villandry Grand Café, St James, was an excellent opportunity for clients, friends and fellow fundraisers to network and discuss the current trends in our sector.
Discussion centred on a question posed by Caroline Underwood, CEO of the Philanthropy Company: how do we close the gap between an exponential increase in charitable causes and the respectively slower increase in donors? It was certainly food for thought as over the course of lunch each table set about to tease out answers to share with the group before coffee.
Many thanks to Jules Foster, Sue Daniels, Celine Rich, Matthew Pilkington, and Sam Mars for feeding back to the group. There was much consensus from the feedback, which can be split into three themes: charities, education and mechanism.
Charities themselves have a huge role to play in closing the gap. In the crowded space in which we operate, the importance of concise, targeted and appropriate communication cannot be overestimated. One thought in particular is that charities should be mining their data effectively to cultivate new prospects and steward well. It was pointed out that prospects know the causes they wish to support and it is the charity’s role to focus their attention on a worthy programme: through focused communication, joined-up thinking with other organisations, and effective impact reporting. Structurally, charities must diversify their income stream and not just rely on high net-worth individuals, and they must leverage their existing networks, especially the trustees.
On a larger scale, there is the need for better education in society on the importance and benefits of philanthropy. This applies to individuals, the media, and at the advisor level. Moreover, it applies across all age ranges – from cradle to the grave. Why are we not effectively inculcating a culture of philanthropy in our young? Yes, schools organise fundraising activities but they are often for large charitable organisations: crucially, this leads to the children not experiencing a sense of impact or personal ownership. Wouldn’t it be better if schools encouraged giving to local organisations, so that students could witness the change they have helped create?
Overarching all is the need for effective mechanisms to encourage giving from every part of society. Government should streamline the tax system; encourage a society of personal benefaction, whether that be as a volunteer or a donor; and release data for analysis. Trust and Foundations should consider funding more projects for longer than a year, and charities need to run effective and accessible legacy programmes.
These writings are only a snippet of the insightful and stimulating conversations taking place around the room yesterday. On behalf of the Philanthropy Company, thank you so much to all who attended yesterday. We hope you found it as interesting and useful as we did.
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