Peter Lewis: Reflecting on fundraising's year ahead
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of Institute of Fundraising, looks back at the last year for fundraising and at what the IoF's priorities are for the year ahead – and sets his own #FundraisingResolution for 2020.
While politics here and abroad at times felt all-consuming over 2019, it was also an important year in the fundraising community, with engaged activity on everything from supporter experience to the ethics of fundraising, from equality, diversity and inclusion to real efforts to collaborate and innovate better.
Much as it was good to see many fundraisers thinking about the bigger issues that we are all facing – improving supporter experience, reducing our climate impact and making the fundraising community as inclusive as possible, we really need an even greater focus on these systemic issues in this coming year.
Excellent fundraising has to be about much more than bringing in the money. It is about how we act and behave, it’s about the values we embed in our work, and it’s about the changes to society our organisations deliver.
And despite the amazing optimism many of you show in predicting income growth in the year to come, last year’s data shows that simply raising the money is going to be hard in the year ahead. Fewer people seem to be giving to charity, while those that are giving are being even more generous. At the same time, fundraisers are doing even more to take care of those who are already supporting them, developing deeper relationships and reporting better on the impact that their donations achieve. And it is still true that investment in fundraising pays dividends, whether that is engaging new supporters or providing an even better experience for your existing supporters.
Driving change in 2020
The challenging environment means, for our part, that we will continue to drive change in areas where we believe we can make a real difference. The lack of diversity in the profession is a systemic weakness that is acting as a severe brake on our ability to raise funds. We are currently missing out on a huge range of talent that can help us think and fundraise better. Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy sets out how fundraising organisations can recruit, retain and develop a much greater diversity of people. Our recruitment toolkit, to be published in early Spring, will give more granularity as to how you can recruit more diverse teams. Please use it.
Alongside this we hope to become a chartered body in the Spring, bringing fundraisers the public recognition you really deserve, and at the same time attracting more people into the profession.
We will also continue our work on tackling the climate emergency, and will need your input and engagement to make a real impact.
Indeed, we cannot make any of the changes we believe are essential across these priorities without the engagement, enthusiasm and commitment of our members and the sector as a whole.
The decisions you and your organisations make now, and the things you choose to prioritise, will affect fundraising and the wider sector for years to come. You have specific opportunities to make change; whether it’s in the choices you make as to how you fundraise and what you invest in, how you recruit, who you train or promote, the culture you create, the donations you accept or refuse, or simply through the engagement you have with millions of people who support and donate to our causes.
My #FundraisingResolution for 2020 is to offer you more support from the Institute in relation to making the profession more equal, more diverse and more inclusive. But I need you all to engage as well. Together we can make the profession stronger, we can deliver even better fundraising, and help create an even better world.
We’d love to know what your own #FundraisingResolution for the year ahead is. Share it with us on the hashtag.
Peter Lewis is Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising