Individual Giving: what’s your Plan to Grow?

Individual Giving: what’s your Plan to Grow?

We’ve analysed over £1bn of income from fifteen of the UK’s most-loved charities – and highlighted key risks and opportunities for fundraising.

We’ll get straight into it, times are tough.

Despite a growth in fundraising income, inflation has undone all of our hard work. According to the long-term data in this year’s research, average fundraised income has actually fallen for participants in real terms over the last five years.

And that’s not for lack of trying. Or indeed spending. Over the years, we’ve seen costs growing faster than income in most areas of fundraising. And things are still particularly tough in recruitment.

During Q4 of 2023 – usually the busiest of the fundraising calendar – the number of new donors fell markedly year on year.

Of course, this won’t be surprising news to many of you.

In January 2024 we shared the results of our mini Christmas benchmarking project which saw many participants spending more, recruiting fewer donors and raising less money. And not much has changed since then.

The most obvious culprit for our current challenges is the economic situation. Inflation may be coming down but interest rates remain relatively high. But there’s also a sense among our participants (and many other sector professionals who shared their views as part of the project) that internal challenges make it hard to rise above the challenging environment.

Almost two thirds of our Charity Benchmarks Survey respondents told us they are struggling with data, insight, and analysis capability and 60% are struggling with their CRM, overcoming this challenge without support won’t be easy.

In the face of these challenges, it’s unsurprising that fundraisers are focusing on reliable returns. Whereas previous years were characterised by talk of innovation, this year saw a marked switch of focus towards donor retention. And when it comes to recruitment, charities are leaning heavily on ‘tried and tested’ Direct Dialogue recruitment – which towers over every other channel in terms of volume and which delivers donors at a very competitive looking price.

It’s this dependence on a single channel that, six years ago, our participants were describing as a ‘burning platform’. And with tough times ahead, things look a little bleak.

In times like these, it’s obviously important to have the information you need to make decisions – which is why we run Charity Benchmarks. But it’s also vital to have a plan – which is why we’re launching a new initiative called Plan to Grow.

Plan to Grow brings together years of experience in developing fundraising strategies for a wide range of UK charities to create a ‘modular’ approach to optimising and growing your Individual Giving programme.

It consists of four key phases which build towards a robust strategy but there’s no obligation to undertake them all to get results.

  • In the initial Discover phase we’ll collate your fundraising results and compare them with the market to get a clear idea of where we’re starting from.
  • We’ll then move on to Optimise – where we identify areas of over- and under-performance and come up with recommendation for how to improve results and eliminate waste.
  • The next stage is Diversify, where we look at your audiences, offers and capabilities to identify new products, channels and ideas that you can use to drive growth.
  • Finally, we’ll help you Implement our findings with a straightforward, actionable plan that will help you deploy and measure initial creative ideas we’ve developed together. 

You can focus on individual sections or work through the whole process, it’s up to you. So get in touch if you'd like to be the first to get access when it goes live – module spaces are limited.

Download the Charity Benchmarks 2023 report

Here we’ve shared the key highlights of our Charity Benchmarks 2023 analysis and what it means for your fundraising. Download your free copy of the report here to see the data in detail and to discover what’s happening in the market.

You can still benchmark your data against the Charity Benchmarks 2023 cohort, or get involved with next year’s study to receive a personalised, detailed copy for your own charity. Chat to us to find out more.

Some notes about the research

  • Charity Benchmarks Sector Report is a snapshot of the study. You will need to be a participant to see all of the data and how your charity measures up
  • Not all participants could supply all of the data
  • Large charities were involved in the study which can influence the overall results

James Briggs Founder
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