Why appearances matter in fundraising
Effective fundraising is all about building strong relationships with a range of funders over time. Even before you start to build those relationships, appearances really do matter. As a seasoned fundraiser, I spend a lot of time looking at the websites and Charity Commission records of arts organisations and potential funders. In doing this, I’m often looking at how a charity appears without knowing very much about it. Sometimes I come away feeling inspired and confident that the organisation is well managed, trustworthy and accountable, and therefore ideal for investment. Sometimes I don’t. What makes the difference?
Attending to the “hygiene needs” of supporters and potential supporters through a charity’s public persona makes the difference. This is really about the basics: what charities say about themselves on their websites, and in their Annual Report & Accounts, as well as the quality of their evident compliance with Charity Commission regulation.
Here are my thoughts on how charities can keep up appearances and meet those hygiene needs in four different places.
• Leadership – funders like to know who your trustees and senior leaders are, so publish their biographies with photographs online. This demonstrates you are accountable and approachable.
• Policies – if you’ve got them, flaunt them! Put online the policies that you know are important to funders. Your Complaints Policy is a key one for fundraising regulation.
• Fundraising regulation – register with the Fundraising Regulator and display the logo prominently. Consider putting this on every webpage as a footer alongside other funder logos and your charity registration number.
• Credit your funders – not only does it thank them publicly, it also tells potential funders about the company they might keep.
Annual Report & Accounts
• Strategy – use the narrative part of your annual report strategically to talk about the work you have delivered as well as your future plans and ambitions in a way that reinforces your fundraising successes and aspirations.
• Say thank you again – acknowledge your funders once more – you can’t thank them enough.
• Fundraising statement – it is a legal requirement for charities registered in England and Wales with a gross income of over £1 million to include statements on their fundraising activities in their annual report. There are specific aspects to cover and doing so engenders confidence in your approach to fundraising.
• Restricted funds – list them and reconcile the amounts involved to any reporting you might have done to the provider of those funds.
Charity Registered Name & Number
• Know the origins of your name – It’s not uncommon for charities to operate under a different name to their registered name with Companies House or the Charity Commission. This can make it difficult to search for you on the Charity Commission register, if you haven’t displayed your charity number. Find a way to clearly communicate your registered name and your operating name on your website.
• Display your charity’s registration number prominently – it is an important fundraising asset. You are required by law to display your charity number on printed and published materials along with your company registration number, if applicable. Place these numbers on your website as a footer on every webpage and make sure the same footer is included in any print and e-communications – especially if you are making a fundraising ask.
Charity Commission profile
• Trustees – keep trustee appointments and resignations bang up to date with Companies House and on your entry on the Charity Commission’s register.
• Charity Commission filing – never file your annual report and accounts late. You don’t want any red lettering indicating your report is or was overdue on your charity commission profile. You will appear to be badly managed, which could be a reason to discount you.
If you are a charity that already does all of these things, then you are an exemplar in attending to the “hygiene” needs of funders, but (I hate to break this to you) this is just meeting the basics in terms of good practice and compliance. So, to apply Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivators and hygiene factors to funder motivations, these steps alone will not attract funding, but their absence might prevent it. So, how do you motivate funders to give? Now that is a whole other matter …
Counterculture offers a breadth of fundraising services ranging from bid-writing to the development and delivery of fundraising strategies for specific projects, programmes and organisations of all sizes. For an informal conversation about how we can help you, please contact Partner, Val Young