NEWS: Second Rogare national report shines spotlight on critical issues facing Scottish fundraisers

A lack Scotland-specific research and analysis of giving trends and fundraising practice is holding back strategic development of the profession. The conclusion comes form Rogare’s latest Critical Fundraising Report, which is launched today at the AGM of the Institute of Fundraising (Scotland) in Edinburgh.

Most of studies on charitable giving are based on the UK-wide population, even though many studies show that Scots think and act differently to other Britons, particularly regarding charitable giving, where Scots are shown to give more to charities than the other nations in the UK.

The report also highlights the lack of affordable professional development opportunities and therefore a lack of skilled senior fundraisers across the Scottish profession, which leads to difficulty in recruiting and maintaining high standards.

The report finds:

“Umbrella bodies and charities themselves must invest in accessing and producing Scotland-specific research and analysis that enable learning and evidence-based decision making. Additionally, they must strive to provide a comprehensive programme of training and professional development tailored to the Scottish market and accessible to fundraisers of all sizes, stages and locations.”

The Critical Fundraising (Scotland) Report was researched and compiled by a task group of Rogare’s International Advisory Panel, led by Scotland-based consultant Mafe Marwick, who says:

“The aim of this report is to identify and explore the main issues that affect fundraising practice in Scotland, and to offer recommendations to tackle these issues. We hope that the issues and topics developed in the report will resonate with readers, and will be a stepping stone for debate and discussion, and for fundraisers to work together in order to find solutions to the challenges identified.”

Issues identified and developed in the CFR (Scotland) Report are:

  1. Fundraising regulation in Scotland – author: Mafe Marwick*
  2. Cuts in public – Mafe Marwick*
  3. Number and size of charities in Scotland – Margaret Clift McNulty* (head of development at National Museums Scotland)
  4. The fundraising profession in Scotland – Gary Kernahan* (THINK Consulting Solutions) and Jo Anderson** (director of external affairs, Scottish Association for Mental Health)
  5. GDPR and other data protection challenges – Roy Biddle (philanthropy manager – trusts and foundations, University of Edinburgh).

* Member of Rogare International Advisory Panel

** Co-opted member

In all, the report makes 23 recommendations, including:

  • Because demand for fundraisers exceeds supply (there is a ‘candidate-short’ market), new and better recruitment processes and induction plans must be developed, providing candidate packs that give greater insight into roles being advertised.
  • Charities should nominate an individual or a committee to take responsibility for ensuring compliance with data protection. One of their first jobs should be to identify the lawful basis for processing activity in the GDPR, and document this.
  • Collaborations must be supported by improvements in training provision across the sector and recognition that achieving long-term financial sustainability through self-generated income requires investment. Government – national and local – can nurture this through provision of training. Funders too can play a part, by permitting funds for capacity building in their grants, thereby recognising their role in helping charities’ long-term financial resilience.
  • Because there is a lack of affordable professional development in Scotland, fundraisers in Scotland, at least in the medium term, will need to accept that the learning and development support for their charity will be limited. As a consequence, they will need to be proactive, to seek out opportunities and build their own personal brand.

Ian MacQuillin, director of Rogare – the fundraising think thank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy – says one of the reasons that Scottish fundraisers were ask to compile a Critical Fundraising Report was because it seems that Scottish fundraising has a different voice that acts as a counter to the dominance of ideas about fundraising in England. For example, Scotland has set up its own regulatory system and has not adopted the Fundraising Preference Service.

MacQuillin says in his introduction to the report:

“For every development in fundraising in these islands, we need a group that feels it has the space to step back and say, hang on, we are not sure this is the right way to do things. And that group may just be in Scotland.”

CFR (National) Reports are part of a series of reports that will be compiled by members of Rogare’s International Advisory Panel over the coming years, which will also include CFR (Method) Reports, looking challenges for types fundraising, such as telephone and major gifts; and CFR (Issues) Reports, which will explore issues such as regulation and ethics.

The Critical Fundraising (Scotland) Report is the second in the series following the publication of Critical Fundraising (Ireland) Report at the Ask Direct Summer School in Dublin in August. Reports for the USA and Italy will be published in the spring of 2018 and work on a Canadian report is about to get under way.

Critical Fundraising Reports are ‘live’ documents that will be regularly updated as new things appear on the radar and others drop off.

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