Charity Today: when we talk about the vital role charities play, we also talk about the work of fundraisers

Charity Today: when we talk about the vital role charities play, we also talk about the work of fundraisers

Mike Smith | 10 February 2017

“We need to change the narrative about the charity sector”. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that phrase over the last 2 years!

Yesterday, as part of a joint project with ACEVO, Charities Aid Foundation, and Charity Comms, the Institute of Fundraising jointly launched the Charity Today report as a step to do just that. 

The report, accompanied by regional and national BBC coverage, led with a headline that ‘charities spend £1500 per second on improving lives’. This underlines the scale, scope and importance of the voluntary sector’s work every day, in every community. At one point #CharityToday was the second highest trending hashtag on Twitter, only beaten to first place by #NationalPizzaDay – but what can you do!?   

Why on earth would the IoF be pushing for more media attention to be drawn to the charity sector?  After all, with the damaging media headlines, the political scrutiny, and the undercover investigations of recent years, surely we have drawn enough attention to ourselves!? 

The simple answer is that it’s time to get off the back foot. Yes the charity sector, and in particular fundraising, has had a lot of, often negative, coverage over the last few years. But that should never mean we shy away from talking about the work that we do, the massive difference we make, and how we do it. Take a look at the stats, numbers and examples in the Charity Today report – almost one in five have received medical treatment from a charity, 230,000 spent every day on delivering nurseries and playgroups, 20,000 Samaritans volunteers, 26,000 people helped by RNLI lifesavers. The list goes on. 

I think this is particularly important for fundraisers to be involved in efforts to highlight the impact and role of charities, and in the debate about how the sector works to achieve this. It is too easy to point to the important work charities do without fully appreciating why and how much of this is able to happen. A big part of the answer, of course, is because of the vital work of fundraisers inspiring and encouraging the generous public to support the causes they care about. 


Fundraising is the main avenue through which charities are viewed by the public. The main tool we have to engage and educate people about our mission. One of the largest ways we fund the amazing work we do. If the charity sector is rooted in people coming together to solve the problems they identify, then the work of fundraisers – linking people with the causes they want to support – goes to the very heart of what the voluntary sector is all about. If we are drawing attention to the essential role that British charities play in all our lives, I believe that fundraisers and donors need to be seen at the heart of this.

I’m really proud that the IoF and the fundraising community is part of the Charity Today project. After reading the statistics and examples highlighted in the report, no one can argue with the scale, impact and importance of our work. Our country would not be the same without our great charities. And charities would not be the same without great fundraisers.







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