CDE project 11d com­mu­ni­ty sec­tion 1

Written by
The Commission on the Donor Experience
April 27, 2017

The approach

The CAF UK Giving report (published May 2016) states that the overall amount given to charity in the last 12 months is £10.1bn that two in three people (67% of the population) have given to charity in the last year and 42% have given in the last month.

Of the people who have donated in the last year, 62% have donated money, 42% have donated goods, 32% have sponsored someone, 21% have signed a petition and 13% have volunteered for a charity. 1 in 8 people have volunteered in the last year, rising to 1 in 4 for students.

The reports states that 10 of the UK’s biggest charity fundraisers raised over £250m p.a. and that in 2015, £185m was generated for charities by back sales. There are ‘peaks’ of fundraising e.g. Comic Relief, the Poppy Appeal, Movember and #GivingTuesday which help to drive donations.

CAF’s 2013 report ‘Britain’s Civic Core’ observed that those involved in their community were more likely to take part in a number of social actions.

The Halifax Giving Monitor 2015 found that despite the increased number of ways to give to charity, including on-line, text and ATM giving, two thirds of charity donors used cash to donate.

These market trends all indicate strong growth for community fundraising, which can also be referred to as regional, local or volunteer fundraising, and encompasses a broad spectrum of fundraising work. It can vary by charity what is included in this area.

Definition can be complicated because of the range of ways in which organisations account for community fundraising income, and the blurring that exists between community fundraising and other disciplines such as corporate and events fundraising. For example, some charities have a combined Community & Events team: others have a Community and Local corporate team, with larger national corporates managed by a Corporate Fundraising team.

In her report: ‘Problem Child or Rising Star’, Lianne Howard Dace summarises that community fundraising is: 

‘Mobilising individuals and groups to raise money on behalf of charitable organisations’ 

and she describes it as: 

the area of voluntary income generation which can be found at the intersection of volunteering and donating.

Community fundraising is experiencing steady growth with more charities investing in and redefining their activity in this area. At least 8% of charity income comes from community/local fundraising, although many charities raise much more than this locally with some basing much of their fundraising on local volunteer orientated fundraising teams.

Fundraising groups are experiencing a renaissance across the sector. Alongside the traditional chair and committee structure, there are virtual groups, using social media (for example Maggie’s Cancer Care has a local Facebook page for each of its caring centres), volunteer led groups (for example RNLI targeted volunteer “clusters” to develop fundraising groups) and product groups, such as the relay groups for Cancer Research UK’s Relay for Life and Oxfam’s Oxjam groups.

A changing concept of community is creating new opportunities; in particular, the use of social media and online sponsorship platforms is changing and driving the reach and engagement of community fundraising and events. Just Giving and other platforms have transformed how community and events fundraising income is generated, with the majority of DIY fundraising now raising money through one of these platforms.

The shift towards volunteer led fundraising is continuing, with many charities reducing the number of staff led regional events, preferring instead to recruit and support volunteers to manage their regional events. Alongside this, overall volunteering levels continue to be high, with up to 42% of the population engaging in some formal volunteering broadly defined. Volunteering opportunities still need to be flexible and time-limited. Some charities have seen an increase in committee and branch led fundraising; again with many taking a more structured and focused approach. There has also been growth in employer facilitated volunteering schemes, with many companies advocating a set number of work hours towards volunteering.

Fundraising events continue to be a popular way for people to engage with and support charities locally, and DIY fundraising has added to this. There has been significant growth in the products offered by charities to act as a “hook” for the DIY fundraising – examples of this include the NSPCC 60 Minute Challenge and the MNDA bakeit. In addition, some charities are developing mass participation fundraising events, following the success of the Macmillan Coffee morning, and others such as Dryathlon and Movember.

Key strengths of community fundraising are its ability to generate long term sustainable and often unrestricted income for charities through relationship fundraising and to withstand periods of financial instability (e.g. 2008) due to its transactional nature where something is offered in return for the donation – a chance to join a group, take part in an event, go to a concert etc.

A further strength is the positive impact on other income streams for example legacies owing to its local staff and volunteer presence. One large charity has merged its legacy team with the community fundraising team for this purpose. Community fundraising can also play and important part in raising the awareness of a cause and profile of the charity. NFP Synergy in its June 2015 report ‘Ringing a bell? Analysing available evidence on the sources and benefits of awareness for charities’ highlighted the importance of community fundraising in securing media coverage, mobilising people, campaigning and lobbying.

Value of the Community Fundraising Sector

THINK’s Community Forum 2015 benchmarking survey of nineteen Community Forum members estimated the total size of the UK community fundraising market to be £4.4 billion, which represents 42% of the total amount of money donated to charity by UK adults in 2014.

This figure of £4.4bn is calculated as follows:

  • There are 1,990 UK charities raising more than £5 million p.a. Their total voluntary income is £44.7 billion.
  • The total voluntary income of the 19 Forum member charities represents 3.2% of the value of the total voluntary income (£44.7bn),
  • For the 19 Forum member charities, the community fundraising income represents 9.8% of their total voluntary income

Apply the same percentage mix to the total voluntary income results in an estimated total, community fundraising market of £4.4 billion. Though given that the 19 are likely to have above average size community fundraising teams, this may overstate the size of the market.

This is corroborated by some charities who split out community fundraising on their annual accounts (although as noted that the definition of community fundraising can vary by charity). NSPCC's total voluntary income in 2015 was £109.8M, of which community fundraising was £8.7M and fundraising events £6.7M. Cancer Research UK's 2015/16 accounts stated that £9.72M was raised by fundraising groups and £49.2M in total from Partnerships & Volunteer fundraising (total income from donations excluding legacies £256M).

If this percentage mix is applied to the total voluntary income of the 1,990 charities of £44.7 billion, then the total value of the community fundraising market can again be estimated as £4.4 billion. Though, as above, it is likely that NSPCC and Cancer Research UK have an above average proportion of funding from community initatives.

The sample of charities in the Fundratios 2014 report raise 11% of their funds through local/community fundraising initiatives (this is however a small sample, and in recent years the amount shown in Fundratios report is around 8% which is the best estimate for the average across the sector). Its value as a percentage of fundraised income varies significantly amongst charities. In recent years, the picture in Fundratios reports has been of a steady increase in the funds raised from community fundraising, although this may be at the expense of a falling ROI which over the last three years of Fundratios reports stands at an average of around 1.80:1.

About the author: The Commission on the Donor Experience

The CDE has one simple ideal – to place donors at the heart of fundraising. The aim of the CDE is to support the transformation of fundraising, to change the culture to a truly consistent donor-based approach to raising money. It is based on evidence drawn from first hand insight of best practice. By identifying best practice and capturing examples, we will enable these to be shared and brought into common use.

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