1. Changes in the Sector
One of the greatest changes is the increased competition for donors’ dollars as a result of an increase in the number of charities and the impacts of a global recession. The internet and new forms of communication have contributed to making competition fierce.
Sponsorships have tended to move away from individual donors to corporate philanthropy. The shift towards big expensive, corporate-sponsored campaigns has resulted in a fundraising crisis for smaller scale ventures that has been called ‘beyond the pink.’
Within the fundraising profession, there are pressures to become more transparent and, at the same time, there is increased scrutiny from Canada Revenue Agency, donors and boards.
2. New Methods and Techniques of Stewardship
Stewardship is about the cultivation of donors. There is increased understanding that stewardship must be customized to meet donors’ interests and desires.
Incorporating stewardship as an integral component of every fundraiser’s business plan is a good start. Educational opportunities for every level within the field and for board members and organization/charity staff are key. Standards for policies and procedures across the sector would be helpful.
3. Potential Areas for Action
A number of issues were identified during Gina’s presentation and throughout the day’s discussions that could be grouped into clusters of areas for potential action.
a) Shift from “donor” to “investor”
There is increasing understanding that fundraising is about investment in the organization’s vision. Responsibility to the donor and accountability for funds raised is of growing concern.
b) Ethical Issues
Professional fundraisers are often caught in a dilemma of protecting the integrity of the profession, maintaining charitable status and being responsive to donor’s interests. Discussion and guidance among the profession is becoming increasingly necessary..
There is increasing need for education at all levels within the profession, with donors, with organization/charity staff and with the general public.
d) Canadian Industry-wide Standards
There are many factors that determine the cost per dollar raised. It will continue to be an important measure within the sector, but more open and candid discussions about this metric are necessary. Standards and guidelines, in a Canadian context, would be helpful.
e) Application of Sales Principles to Stewardship
Stewardship is about building relationships – just as it is in sales. There are lessons to be learned from the founding of United Ways which, in the beginning, were formed as Community Chests by local marketing and sales executives. A loyalty program is one example of a sales technique that could be transferred to stewardship practices.
f) Experiential Philanthropy
There is a need to shift fundraising to a ‘return on investment’ approach. Within the sector, planning tends to be one dimensional – there should be more opportunities to share innovative ideas that meet the donors interest and desires.
g) Doing Business Differently
There is a need to consider how stewardship advances the vision, mission and goal of the organization/charity. And then build that understanding into aspects of the business plan.
If it is valued, then it has to be measured. Within the discipline, there needs to be more opportunity to explore ways to measure the impact and outcome of stewardship efforts. Standards and guidelines, in a Canadian context, would be helpful.
There was strong agreement among the participants at the symposium that Gina’s presentation captured the issues facing the profession as it shifts attention towards stewardship.
There were many great ideas shared throughout the day and a strong recognition that more opportunities for sharing should be provided throughout the sector.
The symposium’s topic was timely and there was agreement that further opportunities to meet, share and explore solutions would be very helpful.