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Freelancing Fundraisers – what’s in it for charities?

Freelancing Fundraisers – what’s in it for charities?

This month (November 23rd) the UK celebrates National Freelancers’ Day and I hear there are even parties planned. Since 1998, the number of freelancers in the UK has risen from 1.25 million to 1.4 million today and I suspect this trend will continue.

Today, freelancers and consultants work in many areas, including fundraising, offering their skills and services to businesses, statutory bodies and of course charities and not-for-profit organisations.

I am regularly approached by people starting out in self-employment, going freelance as an alternative to employment. They are all seeking to offer outsourced services to charities, while they make a living. There are clear benefits for them in doing so – independence, choice of work and when to do it, as well as a sense of freedom (there are also some downsides and not all of them survive in what is a very competitivge market). But what is in it for charities? Is this growth entirely supply side led or is there increasing demand in our sector for more flexible delivery of services?

There are certainly some obvious benefits of using freelancers and other outsourced capacity. For example, there are far fewer legal and financial liabilities if you do not employ someone. Of course there should be a contract to govern the relationship, but it is not one of employment, so there is no commitment to sick pay, holidays, pension, notice periods and no risk of employment tribunals if anything goes wrong. Another main advantage is being able to bring sets of skills that your organisation lacks and may be hard pressed to find in an employee, for example when you are looking to explore a new area of work. Charities also like outsourced labour as, despite the higher daily cost, it is often cheaper overall than having someone on the payroll, because they only pay them when they need them. When there is no work, the freelancer or consultant takes the slack.

These days, I commonly come across organisations that have a core staff team and supplement this with an outsourced list of self-employed staff and consultants, paid on an as-needed basis. We also get a lot of enquiries for this type of outsourced support at our company. I think this trend will continue, as charities seek to “work smarter not harder” and stretch their budgets further.

So let’s hear it for freelancers and , because my feeling is it will be playing an increasing role in fundraising departments near you for the foreseeable future.

Simon George is a Director of Wootton George Consulting and a Fellow of the Institute of Fundraising. He has worked in fundraising since 1987 and was the founder of the IoF’s Trusts Special Interest Group. Today he chairs the IoF’s West Midlands region and works with a wide range of charities in a consultancy capacity. Tel 01785 663600.

Simon George, BSc (hons) FInstF (dip) FRSA is a Director of Wootton George Consulting and has been fundraising since 1987. He has special interests in fundraising strategy, legacies and charitable trusts. A longstanding member of the Institute of Fundraising, he founded its Trusts and Statutory Special Interest Group in 1999 and was also the first Chair of the IoF’s West Midlands region. He has written two e-books on legacies and grant fundraising, published by SPMFundessentials and has achieved the Diploma in Fundraising Management. In 2010 he was made a Fellow of the Institute of Fundraising. Today he manages a team of 20 fundraising consultants around the UK.

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