Skip to main content

What you should know before planning a UK fundraising trip

The 18 UK donor trust representatives (ranging from a CEO of a multi-million pound entity to medium-sized trusts and small family trusts) consulted for the book I wrote, Fundraising from UK Donors, were unanimous in not meeting with fundraisers visiting the UK. 

Their reasons for declining meetings ranged from time management (“We fund UK charities as well as NPOs in 42 countries and have an office staff of three. We do nothave time for meetings.”), to ethical policies (“We never advantage organisations able to send someone to London over those that cannot. We only consider applications based on everyone completing our forms.”).

Donor trust staff advised that they receive an ongoing barrage of requests for meetings. Most are declined.

In trusts/foundations globally, a decision about funding is rarely up to one person. Proposals/application forms are received, analysed, queried and often information is extracted to be presented in an internally required format, with staff motivations and observations, to trustees’ meetings.

Many UK grant-making trusts don’t have websites in order to remain ‘under theradar’. Some that have websites don’t provide a telephone number, email or postal address. There is a growing trend towards online applications that are sent into the ether via a ‘submit’ click.

Numerous funding requests are received from organisations that do not have (or have neglected to mention) a UK-based charity partner, or an acceptable partnership in place. Consequently, UK trusts are inundated with what they term ‘inappropriate applications’, meaning requests from organisations whose work they don’t fund or from those based in countries in which they don’t fund.

UK companies

Unlike in South Africa, there are no UK laws governing or encouraging donations from companies. The corporate sector still speaks of ‘corporate social responsibility’, rather than the more developed ‘corporate social investment’.

British companies generally support local charitable causes suggested by their staff. Favourites are local hospices, particularly those for ill children and charities serving the disabled as well as domestic animals. British companies, with a few exceptions, are not potential donors to SA NPOs.

Some good news

If a trip to the UK with a diary full of meetings with potential donors is unlikely, what then are the positive aspects of visiting the UK? Numerous SA fundraisers report having made excellent contacts, translating into substantial and ongoing funding over the years, after addressing groups in the UK. If planning a UK visit, it’s a good idea to arrange to address a group. Service clubs such as Rotary or Lions are excellent options as they are international and have a commitment to serve; generally by raising money for charitable causes. Faith-based congregations, too, provide a platform to reach individuals (who might be wealthy, serve as trustees of grant-making entities or be moved to support via challenge events).

Tertiary institutions and schools’ representatives visiting the UK can arrange speaking opportunities at alumni gatherings and moving them to give, offer to volunteer or at least follow and share social media posts, is a major benefit in addition to monies raised at events.

This article is an excerpt from Fundraising from UK Donors: A global guide to raising money from the UK by Fundraising Consultant, Jill Ritchie

Packed with resources and tips, Fundraising from UK donors, is an invaluable guide to anyone, anywhere wanting to raise money from the UK. The book covers an array of funding sources: individuals, the wealthy, trusts, bequests, events and many more. She also demystifies the requirement for a UK-based charity partner and explains Gift Aid (whereby the UK Government adds to individual donors’ gifts). Click here to purchase.

Book Sale at Papillon Press!

Papillon Press & Consultancy’s annual November publications sale is on! All books, as well as their popular Donor Directories, listing 903 donors that support SA NPOs, faith-based entities, universities, clubs and schools, are available at reduced prices. Sale ends on 30 Nov.