Our Capability Development Scheme supported seven organisations through challenging issues. We spoke to Alison Read, Director of Business Development for Age UK Lancashire, about how the scheme helped them transform their fundraising strategy.
“You don’t often get this type of support from funders, so it was amazing to be a part of such an insightful and forward-thinking funding programme.” Alison Read
Our Capability Development Scheme was set up to help not-for-profit organisations evaluate and maximise their impact, develop financial sustainability and improve fundraising strategies. Traditionally, funders do not provide this type of support, instead offering project-related funding. But we want to help future-proof community-led organisations working with older people so that they are able to keep providing important services and projects in a sustainable way.
That’s why we developed this bespoke programme of support with our partner, Moore Kingston Smith (MKS), a consultancy firm specialising in financial sustainability and impact evaluation. The first cohort ran in 2021/22 and supported seven organisations across the UK.
We spoke to Alison Read, Director of Business Development for Age UK Lancashire, about how the scheme helped them transform their fundraising strategy for the better.
Why did you apply to the scheme?
The opportunity presented itself at the perfect time because we were just about to start a planning our new three-year fundraising strategy. While we had ideas about what we wanted to achieve, because our fundraising is very broad (from shops to donations and legacies), we knew we could benefit from having expert help. It’s hard to be a specialist in everything in a charity of our size.
We were also aware that fundraising has changed since the COVID pandemic. This scheme provided an opportunity to access expertise that could help us keep on top of our fundraising and stay up to date with the latest developments.
What’s happened since?
“It helps by giving you a toolkit that enables your charity to grow, rather than just more money for projects that will ultimately end.“
Initially, MKS did an audit of the current state of our fundraising and we received a report that provided recommendations about how we could improve, which proved very insightful and helpful. Our trustees, as well as our staff, are now more confident in our fundraising plans because they have gained a greater understanding of what fundraising actually means and what it involves.
Thanks to the expert support we received, the board agreed to invest to expand our fundraising. Now, with a strategy that’s tailored to us as a charity, we should be able to fit better into the fundraising landscape of the future.
Our trustees also approved a business case to expand our charity shop reach and locations. We also got the go ahead to employ a manager who can focus on individual giving and future legacies, both of which should help to increase our income.
What was the best part of the support you received?
One of the major benefits of this support was that we became much better at marketing ourselves and we were able to improve our messaging. We now have a stronger focus on communicating our impact and explaining why we do what we do, which will help support our fundraising goals. Afterall, people are more likely to donate if they are able to clearly see how we are helping the older community.
“This scheme provided an opportunity to access expertise that could help us keep on top of our fundraising”
What would you say to other charities wanting to fundraise strategically?
I think it really helps to get an external view so that you don’t get stuck in your ways – it’s important that you are able to adapt with the ever-evolving world of fundraising.
We assume that we always have to fundraise in a certain way, without necessarily knowing what other options are out there. The DMT not only financed us to receive help from fundraising experts, they knew which experts were the ones to work with! Seeking the right kind of support can really help charities grow and gain more confidence in their approach.
What makes this scheme stand out?
We’re a mid-size charity, so having access to this kind of expertise is something we wouldn’t usually be able to resource. You don’t often get this type of support from funders, so it was amazing to be a part of such an insightful and forward-thinking funding programme.
Most notably, it helps by giving you a toolkit that enables your charity to grow, rather than just more money for projects that will ultimately end.
How the scheme has helped Age UK Lancashire
The Capability Development Scheme that ran in 2021/2022 successfully helped Age UK Lancashire develop future-proof fundraising strategies. With a new, in-depth understanding of fundraising, the charity is now moving forward with an investment in more tailored fundraising strategies alongside improved marketing, new charity shops and the tools to grow independently. As a result, Age UK Lancashire will be able to support more older people and continue to provide important services for the older community.