In this research we would like to shed light on the situation of fundraising in the Hungarian civil society. This study is marked out as first piece of a new series of research. Previous researches analysed mainly the income of civil society organisations, often lumping together private donations and other sources, or without diversifying private donations and donors. Furthermore, we put emphasise on other dimensions, too that can exercise an influence on the fundraising capacity of the organisations – e.g. the management structure and the used communication techniques. To develop fundraising capacity of the organisations and to create the needed know-how we need to know the actual trends and the specific challenges. Fundraiser professionals need more and more data and background information.
In the research fundraising fitness, management, communication of and access to organisations have been analysed to get a broader picture. The fundraiser and the manager of the organisations were asked about the methodology of fundraising and the situation of fundraiser, too.
By selecting the organisations we aimed at assessing the actually active actors of the civil scene to ensure the balance of the selected organisation: scope and size of the organisations participated in the research correspond to DemNet’s previous experiences in the sector.
Altogether we analysed circa 100 organisations. 93 civil managers and 40 fundraisesr answered the questionnaires. In every organisation where a fundraiser is employed – or there is an employee working (also) on fundraising – also the manager and the fundraiser filled out both segments of the questionnaire. After the common universal questions (80%) they received position-specific questions, too.
As a part of the research 12 interviews have been done with chosen organisations. The organisations were selected based on their answers they gave on the questionnaire, based on our previous knowledge, and through our network. The goal of the interviews was besides the overview, we got on the basis of the questionnaire, to dig deeper, and to learn about the strategy, methodology or practices of organisations that have experience in fundraising – or that are planning to start collecting individual donations and to discover specific situations.
The interwievs have been done according to the questionnaire, but the interview itself gave us the opportunity for a deeper ananlysis.
The income, fundraising capacity and knowledge of analysed organisations will be comparised in our final study. Generally speaking we received the following data: infografika 2 What percentage of your income comes from the following resources?
Most of the canvassed organisations have their own management (that means in this case that the executive director and the person responsible for fundraising are not the same), and it is also common that there are different co-workers for communication, grant writing and fundraising tasks. We have noticed, that organisations having continuous fundraising activity for years, recognized that separating the tasks of the fundraiser from other communication-related tasks or other kinds of resource development (such as finance or grant writing) is important. For those organisations that have not separated these tasks, yet, but are active on the field of fundraising, it is difficult to assign enough capacity for fundraising and capacity building. Whilst organisations having fundraising activity send their own fundraiser to participate on fundraising-related meetings, in case of less experienced organisations usually the leader or executive director is the one who attends the meetings – according to our experience it is not necessarily the efficient solution. A crucial experience is that for fundraising every organization need to aquire support of the executive and the board. One of our interviewee explained that they could easily aquire support and recognition within the organisation and within the board, because the executive director participated on study visits on fundraising abroad, so he knows the background, requirements and preconditions of the fundraising work. At almost every organisation the fundraising strategy, or elements of it, especially if expenses incur – must be approved by the leader or by the board of the organisation.
Not surprisingly those organisations who communicate regurarly and consciously are more successful in fundraising. These organisations know their target groups and have created the organisational requirements of successful communication. Typical complain of organisations without fundraising experience that they do not have the suitable conditions such as resources, human resources.
Quotation from an interview made with a CSO maganer:
“Now, so that we have communication, I have found out why this was so diffcult. Our volunteers started to communicate, in addition it was a professional communication. A group of professional volunteers has been formed, typically young mothers were participated in it: journalists, marketing and communication professionals. It revved up the life of our organisation, we started to receive private donations, too. And then we needed to communicate with the donors. I only knew about it that we have to send thank-you letters. Then we found out that it is not enough. We needed to communcate with them persistently. We started our newsletter. And it is still written by a volunteer, a journalist from Pest. But it turned out that we cannot leave her alone with it. She needed news and information. So we needed to re-organise our operation to be able to provide these information. These are painful processes and need a lot of work. This is why it is not easy to start it. But it is worth it.”
Interviewed organisations usually do not define their target group consciously and specifically enough; the definition of their target group is rather an estimation, and that factor makes the communication and the planning of their communication very difficult.
It can have different reasons: in some cases the organization does not consider that defining the target group is important, in other cases the target group is quite big, or the organization has not had the capacity so far to conduct a research in order to find out, who they could address. Contrarily, other organisations define more than one target group, and they are communicating with them consciously using different channels and messages tailored according to the target groups.
The canvassed organizations rarely use databases, but although more and more organisation started to build up a database, they cannot exploit them, since the databases are not analysed thoroughly. However, it is obvious for them that developing and maintaining databases is important to improve the efficiency regarding to fundraising and communication
Using methodologies of impact measurement or impact communication is not common, that is understandable, that the social impact measurement is in it’s infancy in EU, and requires great expertise, capacity, and long-term engagement (regarding not just the topic, but the follow-up, and assesment, too). In projects financed by the European Union organizations conduct the necessary impact measurement and they use the results in their communication as well. But following the feedbacks in social media or other forums / panels is not that difficult for them, and taking into account this information during their work in the future.
Organisations are usually not communicating about their work or earlier results besides that the law prescribes for them. Although they provide information on their actual fundraising activity and about the use of donations, this kind of activity is rather occasional and rarely constant and consciously planned.
There are only a few well-developed and continuous communication campaign, organizations run more preferably shorter communication actions.
53% of the organisations collect private donations, some 23% receive regular donations. The number of regular donors is between 10 and 60 000. Some basic data:
Fundraising in organizational management
Almost every canvassed organisation, acquires its income from different sources, like grants normative state contribution, income generation and donations. They reported that collecting private donations will be invitable to ensure the independent and sustainable operation of the organisation. Generally, organisations experienced in fundasing tend to build their strategy consciously, it is also clear for beginners (organisations) the importance of strategical planning, but the lack of capacity and proper know-how they could not realise a strategy. Organisations have usually 1 to 3 year strategic plans, but many organisations do not even plan on the medium run.
Regarding to the methods of fundraising organisations have very broad and different experiences. They told us about face-to-face fundraising, direct mail campaigns, on-line methods, newsletters, events, work with major donors, etc. – the experience shows, with the right preparation almost every method works, just with the very same results as in Western European countries (regarding the response or the donor attrition rate, etc).
Tipically, those organisations do collect in-kind donations that can use directly those particular gifts in their work (like food, musical instruments).
The interviewees know the idea of donor database and its use, but they usually do not have the capacity for exploiting its advantages or they do not see the return on investment in it. Also, NGOs usually do not assess donor motivations, and there is only a few organizations having continously contact to their donors.
2% of the respondents have fundraiser who does have fundraising as main task. Fundraisers of the other organisations have other tasks, too – typically communication or management.
The minority of the interwieved organisations think that collecting private donations cannot be succesful in Hungary and they did not mention the usual excuse “it would never work here”.
Expectations regarding training
It is quite common among the representatives, that they have not participated in a fundraising training, moroevover, the most of them do not even have any related qualification, which could make their work easier. Usually they read online material, participate in conferences, study visits, or they work by using their ‘common sense’. They agree on that it would be useful to have a comprehensive fundraising training including a lot of practice, possibly in groups, to ensure creative work and the exchange of experiences among the participants.
Q36. Do you think it is important for fundraisers to have any of the following qualifications?
Basically, the interwievees found important all the topics we covered, especially strategic planning, branding, PR, communication, online fundraising and new media, major donor fundraising, legacy fundraising, social sponsoring and events. Besides that was emerging the importance of CSR corporate giving and networking.
They think both the full and comprehensive training and the separate, optional moduls could work as well. The advantage of the first one and what makes it attractive, (besides it is really comprehensive) that those, who finish the whole trainin receive certificate recognized by the European Fundraising Association, and they could use it later on in their future work, too. The one with the moduls could be useful for those, they know exactely, at what fields their organisation needs to sthrenghthen or develop its methodology, but at the same time there is a risk that learning only a part of the profession does not ensure the quality of work.
According to the interviewees organisations would pay for a fundraising training and at the same time fundraisers were also ready to pay their fee as well depending on their financial situation.