What we’ve learned and what next, an honest review of our UK fundraising benchmarking project
I started talking to colleagues about the possibility of a new benchmarking study back in November 2017. As a new consultant on the block, I felt I needed more data about the return on investment for different types of fundraising:
- to back up my own client pitches and
- to inform charity leaders thinking about investing in fundraising (yet nervous about what to expect).
Now that it’s out there in the world, I feel a mixture of pride that I stuck to it (when I questioned so many times why the hell I started it!) and crimson-cheek embarrassment that it took me so long.
Here are a few reflections:
- Arm twisting
The biggest challenge was getting people to fill in the survey. Despite creating a clear and careful guide about how to fill it in and reassuring people that perfection was absolutely not necessary, I still only recruited a third of the people I hoped for.
I asked friends and colleagues to fill it in on behalf of their charities; blogged about it and promoted the study in various Facebook groups (including a group of 30 self-selected fundraisers who helped to shape the study in the early days). I sought advice from experts within the IOF Insights SIG. It was a tough gig. Fingers crossed that now people can see the results for themselves, they might be encouraged to get involved next time around.
- Wild stabbing in the dark
Feedback indicated that despite enthusiasm and a genuine desire to participate, many fundraisers did not have access to the information they need about how much is spent and raised from different types of fundraising.
A conversation with an experienced Chief Executive clarified that in her experience, many leaders don’t have this information either and thus lacked the confidence to fill the survey in to the best of their knowledge (which I reckon would have been good enough…).
- I still believe
Regularly updated information about standard ROI figures in fundraising would help:
- leaders to make better decisions about investing in fundraising (especially when funds are tight and demand for services is high)
- managers to set appropriate KPI’s, deliver better performance monitoring, support and development to staff
- the wider world to view fundraising with greater respect; add credibility to our profession
- eliminate conversations about whether fundraising is a worthwhile investment or not
I would love to run the survey again and am hoping that the incredible interest in this mini-study might translate into something bigger for the coming years.
Our vision is for up to date evidence-based benchmarking data which is free to access.
- a sample of size of at least 100 charities
- data which can be segmented by sector, charity size, geographic location etc
- inclusion of commercial income related ROI’s
- funder insights
- comparative 2019 / 2020 data
- the impact of involved and engaged trustees in fundraising success
- the impact that a diverse board representative of a charity’s audience has on fundraising success
Please keep an eye on emails from us promoting a future study (I’m putting it out there that November might work for us…#savethedate).
It would be incredible to have you on board!