This week it has been announced that 28 major charities will get the chance to trial commercial approaches to fundraising in partnership with the Cabinet Office and Nesta. Those selected will receive coaching and peer support for three months, before submitting detailed proposals to the Innovation in Giving Fund. These proposals will “encourage approaches to open innovation that are increasingly common in commercial organisations”, seeking to boost fundraising. This should offer participating charities an exciting chance to learn new techniques to assist them as they build relationships with their supporters and donors.
This is a really positive new approach from Nesta, in identifying commercial techniques which can be of use to charities across the country in a range of their fundraising activities (tracking donor relationships for example). Indeed, the real benefit will emerge from the possibilities for learning from the fund to be shared widely across the Third Sector. The omens are good here, in so far that, the range of activities and interests of those charities taking part is broad (from arts, medical charities, wildlife organisations, children and young people and other social groups).
We believe that they key to success here will be for the major organisations, which have the chance to learn directly from the commercial sector, to build partnerships with smaller organisations. For example, the British Museum could use its links to smaller and regional collections to pass on learnings throughout the world of museums. Success will lie not only in the passing on of new commercial techniques but unlocking accompanying mentoring and support from major organisations to allow resource-stretched smaller organisations to really make new digital activity work. Ideally, the major organisations could also use some of their fundraising muscle to support the development of projects with smaller organisations – a truly circular and engaged approach to maximising the potential of this important fund. Indeed, we would go so far as to make this support for smaller organisations a condition of grant!
We’d be interested to hear from you if you work for a small charity – would you welcome this commercial expertise and do you think it’s relevant to you? How would new techniques help you work with donors and supporters and crucially, what extra capacity would you require to make this work?