Proving it's possible – Autistica award win a game changer
Since Autistica won two IoF National Fundraising Awards last year, there has been a palpable sense among the team that we can achieve things that appear impossible for a charity our size – we have the proof that we can do it!
This boost in confidence and belief in ourselves and our mission has had wider impact beyond just fundraising. It has positively affected staff morale, recruitment, PR and policy influencing.
In the last year we have won three further corporate partnerships and launched an entirely new national autism research network. We recruited almost 5000 new members, showing our growing confidence in communicating with a wider supporter base. We have also inspired individual donors to give at levels we have not seen previously.
At the National Fundraising Awards 2017, we won Best Business-Charity Partnership 2017 with Deutsche Bank and Fundraising Charity of the Year, Small. The Awards have been key to building Autistica’s reputation and a legacy to take forward from our award-winning Deutsche Bank partnership.
Within this partnership we have broken financial records by raising more than £2.2 million for Autistica’s work – the greatest Deutsche Bank has ever raised for a charity. We have also created a whole new employment service for autistic adults with research embedded. Autistica even used staff talent to create the first ever app to help manage anxiety in autism which can devastate lives.
The Deutsche Bank Charity of the Year scheme is aimed at small charities to help them make a step change in income and impact. Even with all the time and effort we'd put into canvassing, actually winning this partnership at the end of 2015 was a huge surprise for Autistica. Most large Charity of the Year staff votes are won by the best known brands, but our strong personal relationships and our carefully crafted messaging combining emotion and impact helped us scoop this game-changing opportunity.
This was a chance like no other to raise unparalleled funds and change the charity for the long term. But we knew almost from the start that we had to focus on legacy: how could this two year partnership catalyse years of future fundraising? We wanted to use it as a test bed for a new ‘more than money’ model of corporate partnerships and showcase what we could do so we could get the attention of other major companies, run large events with major speakers knowing we could fill the seats.
Winning two IoF National Fundraising Awards has been important for Autistica in proving that size is not a barrier to delivering excellent partnerships that positively impact so many people. These are tough times for all charities. But there's no doubt that this is a new era for Autistica and our future looks very bright.
Sarah Bissell, Director of Fundraising at Autistica