It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times – and then it was 2018!

Populism was so last year, but this year we will pull our little socks up and all work together – won’t we? Indeed, we will build a bridge over the channel. Yes, a real one (probably designed by Thomas Heatherwick) not a metaphorical one and we will not burn it – will we? Then as the year gets going we will also build a modern circular Houses of Parliament without the built-in confrontation – why not?

So, that’s two capital appeals for the International Fundraising Consultancy and a bit of wishful thinking.

And back to the real world – next year:

  1. Fundraisers will be back in the firing line

Unfortunately, populism may be even more entrenched and the sneeries may continue to attack us ‘do gooders’, with attacks on overseas charities (charity begins at home), charity executives (they haven’t earned it like er, car manufacturers, lawyers and bankers) and especially on fundraisers who shouldn’t exist, period. Yes, 2018 will be open season on fundraisers all over again, and the consequence will be less money raised for those in need and maybe even more agencies going down.

I have a feeling that the Daily Mail hate-news type of populism will deepen (in intensity not numbers) and shred support for many charities that rely on a mass of small donations. Leaving the Guardian-reading end of the market to keep them going, even as their income sinks under inflation and stagnant wages. The embitterment as Brexit fails to deliver its outrageous promises will be a sight to behold.

  1. Blockchains will be good news

Blockchains, and the crypto currencies dependent on them (or their equivalent like tokens pegged to a stated currency), will solve a lot of problems we didn’t know we had. As well as, in shipping funds overseas without incurring large charges and seeing some of it disappear before it reaches its target. Development and other international charities will welcome this change and adapt to it at quite a pace. Once new technologies are seen to provide a real advantage, I see UK charities adopting them very rapidly, like the huge expansion in contactless giving. Many of IFC’s customers now ask for contactless-giving opportunities in new museums and galleries, indeed anywhere that potential donors are present in numbers and can be moved to give.

Indeed, the whole chain of donations moving in to charities for certain purposes may well soon be through a blockchain for complete transparency. This may steadily transform the way we shape the ask as it becomes more possible to allocate a single donation to a charitable purpose.

  1. We will raise funds in strange lands

IFC has been involved with a growing flood of charities who are keen to raise funds in new countries away from the saturated UK and US markets with their restrictive legislation and patronising attitudes to fundraisers and fundraising. Instead, they are both setting up fundraising offices wherever there is money to be made, often in wealthy East Asian countries like Singapore, China (especially Hong Kong) and India; but they are also encouraging their local branches to fundraise in Latin America, Africa and just about anywhere there is at least a reasonably prosperous middle class as well as a wealthy elite.

We have been involved in opening-up markets in Latin America, East Africa and Asia and run training courses in fundraising to complement our market-research findings and strategic recommendations. This gold rush will one day, however, become more of a zero-sum game as more and more INGOs compete for scare funds from corporates and wealthy individuals, but for now the first movers are cleaning up almost unopposed.

The alternative title for this third trend is ‘the death of growth’ as UK charities are now reaching peak donorbase, and indeed the number of supporters for many of our largest charities is in decline with no prospect of a return to growth – would you believe I used to get a 5% return on cold direct mail and break-even in six months? Sadly, those days are gone forever.

  1. We will party with billionaires

2018 should be the year we really crack the process of fundraising from billionaires. And it will be about time! Once we have their confidence, and have created that elusive relationship we have all heard about, then we will be in some small way part of their lives and our party invites will be accepted.

How do we do that when at heart they think transactionally? Come and talk to us at www.groupifc.com

  1. IFC will grow exponentially

Over the years we have taken great care to select brilliant fundraisers to be IFC directors in new countries, and then nurtured them into very effective consultants. Now we have offices in 12 countries and our rate of growth is speeding up, as we meet more and more exceptional fundraisers, who want the flexibility of working hours that consultancy brings and who have the desire to develop not just one organisation but a great many, and to join us in our mission to change the world.

We are looking for great directors in every country where we are not already represented. If you know someone or are interested yourself please let me know. Right now our target countries are Canada, France and well, I have a hankering to visit Japan again.

2018 bring it on!

John Baguley, Chair, Group IFC