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Are new fundraising ideas getting crushed by fear or ego?

For the second time in a year, we’ve seen the Institute of Fundraising’s Innovation panel report that an idea borne out of the financial services sector might be a go’er, but perhaps not. A score of three out of five for an initiative that helps fund good causes via activity that investors are undertaking anyway, and that costs the charity a small amount (£250) relative to the donations potential, seems strange.

And it turns out that if the charity does not raise at least the £250 registration fee in the first year, it will be refunded anyway!

The panel’s review of the Investaid service was reported in Third Sector this week and their conclusions follow a similar line to those for Cleversquirrel which was reviewed in 2009. Namely that it’s a bit different, people might not ‘get it’ or ‘trust it’ and therefore not a good idea. According to Investaid director Mike Stafford, the panel appears to have misunderstood how the site works and allocated their score accordingly.


How to move from Fundraiser to CEO - by Bruce Tait. Upwards white arrow on blue background.

I’m not attacking the panel and we all know that financial services has been tainted by the recession but come on! Cleversquirrel is now closed which is a shame given the potential it had to raise FREE MONEY for the sector. A more open-minded approach may help to ensure services like Investaid and Cleversquirrel are successfully used by more charities.

If Investaid is to succeed for charities, the Institute perhaps needs to think more openly about fundraising ideas which originate from outside of the ‘traditional sector’. We are in an unprecendented economic climate and there is huge uncertainty around future funding so why not embrace new ideas which should be able to help?

I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the Institute’s Innovation panel (unlike some of the commenters on the orginal article) and believe that it’s not ego which is preventing their endorsement of new, untraditional ideas. It seems more like a reticence to support anything unproven; but how can any true innovation be anything but unproven? The panel seldom awards more than three out of five to new inititatives and this approach isn’t doing charities any favours in the long run as many look to the Institute’s experience and ./guidance to help manage their own risk-averse decision-makers.

If we don’t try new ideas, particularly when they’re effectively free, how do we expect to survive as a vibrant and viable sector? I don’t get it.

PS – I have no connection to the Investaid service. I haven’t played with it at length so can’t endorse or decry it but I beleive my points about promoting more new ideas still stand. What would you add?


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