When I first started as Fundraising Director at the British Section of Amnesty International UK, I found an excellent report sitting in my in-tray from a fundraising consultant. It contained a detailed analysis of the current fundraising programme and the possible income streams still unfulfilled. Yes, this was a hard-copy print out way before such things came in pdf or PowerPoint format, and quaint as it may seem it was invaluable. Written by an experienced fundraising consultant who obviously knew her stuff, it was soon covered rather fetchingly in brown coffee stains and yellow highlighter as I read, reread and shared it.
After interviewing the fundraising staff, finance director and my CEO, I could see that the consultant had hit on several key problems; but also outlined a set of solutions, and better still, mapped the path forward after those problems were solved. That document gave me a six-month lead on where I would otherwise have been and kick started a period of astonishing growth for the Section.
Later, the Section became overcrowded and we needed new offices; so, it was time for a capital appeal to raise several million pounds to buy new premises and also give us some serious financial security. I had never run a capital appeal before and didn’t know anyone who had, so naturally I looked for a fundraising consultant. In those days I found them listed at the back of one of the magazines that featured fundraising. Today I would just google International Fundraising Consultancy – see what I just did? Anyway, I chose three to interview, and having settled on one that seemed to know their stuff and who could get along with (the hard part).
I surprised my headstrong self by being amazed at the thoroughness and practicality of their approach: they could interview trustees and donors, getting honest answers; they could come up with list of possible donors (wealthy individuals, foundations and corporates) and they could develop a strong case for support that moved potential donors emotionally and intellectually. One trick they missed was that new offices are inherently boring, and it wasn’t till I came up with the idea of calling it a ‘Human Rights Centre’ that the idea gained traction. It is now built and runs under the amended title of a Human Rights Action Centre. Later, before I set up my own consultancy in 2000, I repeated the process at The Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture (now called Freedom from Torture) and they in turn now work in a wonderful new centre.
Thirdly, I now find that the more imaginative organisations are unafraid of this fast-changing world, asking for advice and embracing new ideas and more importantly the new professional practices in fundraising. No one can run a fundraising department today and also keep up with best practice, all the new digital fundraising possibilities and the changes in law and social interaction affecting our work. Neither can I, which is why we employ a range of staff and associates who advise everyone from UN agencies to much smaller organisations who want to run superb fundraising programmes.
So, to recap:
1. If you really want a pin-point analysis of your current income streams and the possibilities for your organisation or need to improve just one technique – email us.
2. If you need to raise a very large sum quickly – take our advice.
3. If you embrace change and look to the future – let’s talk.
Lastly, to be specific, we can help you develop a first-class fundraising strategy, run a capital appeal, succeed with very wealthy people, greatly improve and integrate your offline and online fundraising and open up new markets overseas. To see what else we can do look at our website www.groupifc.com.
I could not have succeeded without consultants – I recommend them to you!
John Baguley, Chair, IFC Group