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Fundraising most important skill for facing the future say small charity leaders

Fundraising most important skill for facing the future say small charity leaders

Small charity leaders believe they most need fundraising skills and experience if they are to meet future challenges, according to a survey by The Garfield Weston Foundation.

The Garfield Weston Foundation surveyed small charity leaders to mark the opening of the 2018 Weston Charity Awards, and found that 65% identified fundraising skills as the most needed, while over half (54%) say strategy development is a much-needed skill to help their organisation thrive in future.

The findings

Which of the following skills or relevant experience do you think are most needed to meet your future challenges?

  • Fundraising – 64.9%
  • Strategy development – 53.85%
  • Building partnerships with the commercial sector – 48.29%
  • Branding and communications – 46.15%
  • Staff development and performance management – 41.88%
  • IT & digital – 40.60%
  • Financial – 37.18%
  • Governance – 32.91%
  • Building partnerships within the not for profit sector – 31.62%
  • Other – 11.97%
  • Expertise in organisational mergers – 8.97%
  • Estates and facilities management – 7.69%

The research showed that charities expect to help more people in 2018 but without real income growth.

Less than half (39%) of charities feel their staff and volunteers have all the skills required to prosper in the next five years and over a fifth (21%) said their organisation had spent no time whatsoever on seminars, courses, away days or working with coaches or mentors in order to develop leadership skills.

77% also have no plan for dealing with a surge in demand for services; 72% aren’t formally prepared to deal with potential policy changes that could have a significant impact on resources, and 64% have no agreed plan in place should they need to deal with the departure of key staff. In fact, the research shows that three quarters of leaders of small and medium sized charities are spending little or no time on long-term planning and strategy, 62% spent just a few days in the past year in dedicated planning and strategy sessions whilst 13% put no time aside at all.

Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said:

“The fact that so many charities are optimistic about helping more people in spite of financial pressures is a testament to the dedication and drive of charity leaders. However, our research shows that long-term planning is suffering. That’s exactly why the Weston Charity Awards exist – to provide a year-long programme that connects ambitious charity CEOs with a bespoke team of top business leaders.”

The Garfield Weston Foundation is encouraging charities to enter its 2018 awards, which offer the opportunity to win £6,500 and a year’s free leadership coaching. Twenty charities will win a Weston Charity Award in 2018 – the fourth consecutive year of programme expansion. Each winner will benefit from a year of intensive leadership coaching through the Pilotlight Programme along with £6,500 in unrestricted funding.

The awards are open to any charity with an annual income of less than £5 million that provides frontline services in the fields of community, welfare and youth. The Weston Charity Awards were first established in the North East of England in 2014 and have since expanded to the Midlands and for the first time this year to Wales.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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