Monday, 20 September 2010

The UK's National Occupational Standards for Fundraising...where's the "Ask?"

Last week, I had the privilege to participate as a member of an expert fundraising panel discussing the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), the new framework for creating and accrediting qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

QCF units are based on the National Occupational Standards (NOS) which are developed and managed by the UK Workforce Hub.  According to Skills Third Sector, the QCF:
  • recognises smaller steps of learning (units)
  • enables learners to build up qualifications bit by bit (by combining units)
  • helps learners achieve skills and qualifications that meet industry needs
  • enables work-based training to be nationally recognised
 Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the National Occupational Standards for Fundraising skip the quite important step of asking people for money.

Sure, there's information on creating and developing a Fundraising Plan, and recording and monitoring donations, but the important step of asking a donor for money is omitted, compressed into the "implementing a fundraising plan" stage.

In the Major Giving component, for example, the important step of asking for a contribution is alluded to in No. 12. Select and implement appropriate solicitation strategies.

It's hard enough sometimes for professional fundraisers to ask for money, or to facilitate the process with trustees and existing donors.

The most troubling thing about the National Occupational Standards for Fundraising, however, is that young professionals with an interest in the sector will get a very wrong idea of what fundraising is about.

If we are going to encourage a "culture of asking" in the country, including it in our National Occupational Standards would be a great place to start.

Rick Holland CFRE MInstF

Thursday, 10 June 2010

David Puttnam is wrong.

On tonight's 10:00 BBC news, David Puttnam makes the same tired argument, linking his concept of American-style philanthropy to wealthy donors who want their names on buildings.  He said it wouldn't work in the UK, calling it "tacky" and adding that he himself would be "embarrassed" by such recognition.


Puttnam, bless him, continues to perpetuate the stereotype of the philanthropy coming solely from the wealthy narcissists.  

The cultural shift in the UK's giving will be driven by donors at every level, and the fundraisers who facilitate that giving.  Support of charitable organizations is a responsibility we're all learning to share, and not one that's only borne by the wealthy.

Rick Holland CFRE MInstF
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Did you give less last year?

Good piece of information from our American colleagues, via an article in the New York Times which can be found here.

Although the report on decreases in voluntary income are timely, what I find more intriguing is how the entire funding picture breaks down.

The Giving USA foundation reports that an estimated $303.75 billion was given away in 2009.

Of this total, $227.41 billion came from individuals.  That's a healthy 75%.

Trust and foundation giving was down as well, to $38.44 billion, but that's just 13% of the total.

Corporate giving was up, to an estimated $14.1 billion, a paltry 5% of the total.

Why do we continue to put so much effort into pigeonholing  fundraising (and fundraisers) into outmoded jobs like "corporate account executive" or "trust fundraiser"?

As fundraising professionals, let's encourage our employers and clients to think differently, and stop concentrating so much resource and effort to 18% of the fundraising pie.


Rick Holland CFRE MInstF
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Scottish misconceptions continue.

The May 2010 issue of Caritas arrived at Confident Philanthropy headquarters not too long ago, and I was excited to see the article "North of the Border" included, a report by Cathy Pharoah and Mark Pincher about fundraising in Scotland.

There were cogent comparisons of English vs. Scottish  fundraising, with assertions that Scottish charities depend more on statutory funding than their English counterparts and that the Scots spend about half as much on fundraising than the Welsh or English.

Things get a bit hairier for Pharoah and Pincher near the end of their report, however, when they say that in Scotland "private donating may not be as embedded in charitable culture," followed by "it may also reflect very different socio-economic profiles, and this factor is outside the control of fundraisers."

This is thinly-veiled way of saying that Scottish donors are simply poorer than their neighbours to the south, less able and less willing to make philanthropic gifts, and less saavy about fundraising and the need for private support of charities.

I don't buy it, and neither should you.

Philanthropy can thrive at all income levels, but as a percent of income it actually decreases as income rises.  I challenged Geraint Talfan-Davies when he made a similar charge nearly two years ago (we followed it up with a great meeting at the Royal Over Seas League a few weeks later), but as far as I thought we'd come in developing the private philanthropy and the "culture of asking" in the UK, I realise we still have a long way to go.

Jeremy Hunt, let's make this happen!

Rick Holland CFRE MInstF
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Wal-Mart Gives $2 Billion for Hunger

Say what you will about the behemoth behind Asda, but this is one heckuva gift.

Rick Holland CFRE MInstF
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

07867 814 690

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Northcott Exeter closes

The Stage recently reported that Exeter's Northcott Theatre was going dark, with 27 redundancies in its wake.
Two years ago, I contacted the Northcott's then new manager to congratulate her on her appointment, wish her luck with the theatre's reorganization, and offer to talk with her about the Northcott's longer term fundraising needs, with no obligation.

I received absolutely no response.

Although I'm saddened for the people of Exeter and the Northcott staff, perhaps a cogent discussion of the theatre's funding situation a few years could have delayed or prevented this loss.


Rick Holland CFRE MInstF
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

07867 814 690


Dear Ms Tyrrell

Best of luck with Northcott's reorganization.  I just caught the Stage article too, so I'm sure you're quite busy inside the theatre and out!

I also hope you got my brief note a few months ago, and if you are interested in having an informal chat about diversifying your income streams and ramping up your fundraising, please let me know.  I'll be in the Southwest later this month, so I'm happy to pop in at a convenient time.

With warm regards

Friday, 16 April 2010

"They tried to get some extra funding, but ACE said no, No, NO!"

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, recently addressed the Local Government Association's culture, tourism, and sport conference, and event which was also sponsored by ACE.

He urged local authorities to maintain their investment in the arts, but also admonished them--warning that the Arts Council could not afford to mitigate local cuts.

I recently met with Alan and ACE Chair Liz Forgan to discuss how fundraisers and consultants can work collaboratively to help ACE-funded organizations diversify their incomes, especially those which don't have robust fundraising programmes.

Despite our discussion, Davey's remarks ignored this - perpetuating the overdependence too many arts organisations have on government funding.

ACE and local government funding can be a piece of the pie, but let's continue to build the UK's 'culture of philanthropy,' at all income levels, so that no charity is too dependent on any one source.

A missed opportunity, Alan!

Rick Holland CFRE MInstF
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Rick Holland CFRE meets with ACE Executives

Good meeting yesterday with Arts Council England leaders Liz Forgan, Chair, Ali Cole, Executive Director, Advocacy and Communications, and Alan Davey, Chief Executive at their headquarters in Great Peter Street.

We discussed fundraising consultants, the "culture of giving" and, perhaps more importantly, the "culture of asking" in the UK, as well as how the fundraising community can work with ACE to help arts charities, especially smaller ones, diversify their income in light of decreasing statutory and government funding.

Specific solutions will take time to develop, but this was an excellent start and I thank Alan, Ali, and Liz for their candor and their time.

More details to follow.


Rick Holland CFRE

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Wealth ≠ Philanthropy

Beth Breeze of Kent Philanthropy had a great letter in this week's Third Sector (the 16 March 2010 issue) which addresses the continuing confusion between "wealth" and "philanthropy."

Wealth does not automatically engender philanthropy.  Fundraisers, and their charities, need to forget about the “Rich List” and find out who's bubbling under.

Rick Holland CFRE
Confident Philanthropy Ltd.

07867 814 690