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Business Case for recruiting fund-raising team

Posted on 30 June 2008 at 7:57 pm
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  • Anonymous
    30 June 2008 at 7:57 pm #3161

    Hi I am a trustee of an international but not London based charity. Until recently we have generated signigicant revenues from several different business streams eg a property portfolio which have funded our activities. However we are now forecasting an operating loss and so I am keen to develop a fund-raising arm to our operation. I am having difficulty convincing some of the other trustees that we should be paying out competitive salaries in order to recuit the right calibre team. I think they have tried once before some years ago and clearly didn’t have the right person in place. Can anyone point me towards a business case/ model for the introduction of fund-raisers that I could adapt for our charity.
    I’d be really grateful for your help.

    1 July 2008 at 9:34 am #10537

    Hi Helen.
    Can’t point you to a business case, sorry. But can say that the charity I work for went for many years without a fundraiser.
    Then were in financial trouble so hired one. Didn’t pay competitive salary (still don’t) so most of the candidates were low quality in terms of what was needed.
    First person they took on was no good.

    I came long then, talked myself into the job and got them several times my salary.

    Think of it this way – in any business, if you pay below the market rate then the chances of getting good applicants isn’t great. Goes for any type of job.
    To me, the fundraisers of a charity are its sales staff. Get the mix right and the sky is the limit. Get it wrong and it is possible the staff won’t even cover the cost of getting and keeping them.


    1 July 2008 at 12:25 pm #10540

    Helen, you say ‘international, not London-based’ – does this mean that you are not registered as a UK charity? Also, as I’m not sure whether you yourself are based here (and am assuming ‘not’) please excuse any statements of the obvious.

    There are nearly 200,000 registered charities (and that doesn’t include unregistered charitable organisations e.g. small/locally based groups) in this small island. Competition for support – from individuals and organisations – is intense. You will need SERIOUS investment to break into this over-crowded market.

    Perhaps deciding how you want to fundraise will help clarify your articulation of the business case for investing in it (apart from Martin’s absolutely correct assessment of ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’ – if you’ll excuse the crude summary Martin).

    By ‘how to fundraise’, I’m talking about where you will position yourselves in the “market” – are you after wide public appeal, a smaller (inevitably) number of reliable major donors or support from trusts and foundations?

    1) unless you have a very appealing cause and/or a high public profile, fundraising from the general public may not be (as) cost-effective (as a more targeted approach) – until you are better known. Terence Higgins Trust (HIV/AIDS support and education), for example, was in the right place at the right time – intense Government education campaign and high public interest enabled it to ‘come from nowhere’. But stories like theirs are very few and far between.

    2) If you look at fundraising success stories for any newish UK charity, I think it is safe to say that, without (or at least almost without) exception, these successes are due to huge donations, either in cash or kind, from the rich and/or famous (e.g. Absolute Return for Kids, whatshername’s fundraising event a couple of months back which was hailed as a huge success story for women in philanthropy – or something – and more). Contacts are key to fundraising in this area – your Board will have to invest some time and effort in its own networks – not just whoever you hire.

    3) If your income stream from endowment is covering most (although not all) of your costs, independent trusts may be more reluctant to support your activities unless you have a very good case. Additionally, many trusts are legally restricted (by their trust deed) to funding UK-registered charities only. Of course you can register – but it takes time and effort to do so, then you’ve got trust decision lead-times: it would be (in my estimation) at least 12 months from applying for registration to seeing any significant returns from trusts.

    I’ve deliberately not mentioned corporates as this is really not my area of expertise – but I know that this is also a very tricky area to ‘break into’ – as with individual major donors, relationships are key; they can be fickle (‘charity of the year’) and may demand ‘returns’ – e.g. PR, endorsement – that you may not be able or willing to meet.

    Where-ever you decide to start, if you have no UK base at present, then you will need to hire someone who really knows the arena. Just as businesses have to pay to get experts, so do charities.


    1 July 2008 at 1:02 pm #10541

    Hi Helen

    You may find Tony Poderis’ website of interest – there are a number of articles in the Fundraising Forum Library section about recruitment and developing a fundraising/development team. Worth a look:

    Kind regards

    3 July 2008 at 4:18 pm #10558

    thanks very much for your helpful comments. Good to hear it from the horses’s mouth so to speak.


    3 July 2008 at 4:21 pm #10559

    thank you for your comments – we are UK based and registered – I am just meant we have international appeal and therefore opportunites for fund-raising too. Useful steers that I will investigate.

    3 July 2008 at 4:22 pm #10560

    thanks for suggesting the site – I will take a look

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