Think Small to Aim High

Red ladder taller than white ladders

Adam Bryan | 6 October 2016

Recently you may have seen a New Philanthropy Capital report which said people in the UK with wealth over £1m gave a total of approximately £1.3bn a year to charity.

It said this could increase to £5.2bn a year if donors were to focus on impact as well as on outcomes, strategy and collaboration in this evolving philanthropy world.

There is a role for the sector to play, particularly its leaders and the major donor fundraisers to help us achieve that ambitious target. But what an incredible skill set our major donor fundraisers must now have if they are truly to be effective and maximise the opportunity from ultra-high net worth individuals. It is not enough to be an excellent networker and relationship builder, passionate and knowledgeable about your cause or institution; you need to be comfortable having grown up conversations with Captains of Industry as well as social investors, you now need to have a strong understanding of financial markets; you must be entrepreneurial enough to identify new opportunities for your organisation as well as accurately predict risk and potential returns and impact. It would also help to understand the tax implications of any gift or investment. Be ambitious, aim high and convince the doubters to be patient and trust you! 

So, what tips and advice can our panel of experts offer? Carlos Miranda, CEO of IG Advisors framed the debate by saying if you are going to aim high you should also think small. Small is indeed beautiful. Donors are suffering from “Gala fatigue”, they’ve been to as many posh hotels as we’ve had hot dinners. Small, intimate as well as creative and different is the way to go. One successful example found the “wow factor” in an exclusive soiree in a London fish and chip shop!

Small works, too, for Michelle Stein - Senior Philanthropy Manager at WaterAid. Write short pro-posals; know your audience and how busy they are. Get to the point, be business-like and get the language right - focus on outcomes, return on investment and results.

Michelle also led on the implementation of a new strategy and engaged trustees, directors and existing donors in major donor fundraising, resulting in doubling the team's income in a year.

Engage your network, make friends with your Finance Director and be inventive. Consider how you maximise all your assets? Richard Dutton, CEO at Windover Bay, heralded a unique investment proposition for cash sitting in a charity bank account, earning little if anything. Through an innovative collaboration between social investors and investment managers, Windover Bay has created a cash management model that can offer charities up to a 3% guaranteed minimum return on their cash investments.

Patrick Fietje started his career as at Goldman Sachs in London, became a principal trader and worked at many of the City’s leading financial institutions before setting up Tavira Securities. He acknowledged that the uncertainty caused by Brexit will create a volatile market, which will work for some investors, but in the charity sector, with donor’s money, safety first is the way to go.

Patrick is a fan of the Windover Bay model:

In a low interest environment, charities are forced to look at their cash management models…and the Windover Bay model gives charities a genuine alternative to investing their cash with better returns while maintaining the safety and liquidity of their funds”.

With interest rates at next to nothing, small increases, up to 3%, can make a world of difference.

So major donor fundraisers need to aim high but remember to also think small.

Blog from the recent Innovation in Philanthropy event at the Institute of Directors, kindly sponsored by Tavira Securities



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