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Brookes questions Funding Commission's "incredible" giving prediction

Brookes questions Funding Commission's "incredible" giving prediction
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Brookes questions Funding Commission's "incredible" giving prediction1

Fundraising | Gareth Jones | 21 Dec 2010

The Funding Commission’s suggestion that private giving could be increased by £11.3bn via a mere £12.2m investment is “far too optimistic”, according to New Philanthropy Capital.

Writing in NPC’s blog, chief executive Martin Brookes (pictured) said that although he welcomes the suggestion of more investment in private giving and believes that a number of the report's ideas “ring true”, he doesn’t think the predicted increase is realistic.

“My anxiety is whether the ideas can possibly deliver the near £10bn increase in private giving which the report talks about. This represents more than doubling the value of charitable donations.

“According to the NCVO almanac, total spending on fundraising was £2.6bn in 2007/08. An investment of £10m is miniscule compared with this total.

“While a well-targeted investment could make a significant difference to making the £2.6bn more productive, this would imply gains to the efficiency of fundraising in excess of 100 per cent from a tiny sum of money.

“That seems too optimistic. The report does not make such an increase in private giving a prediction, but it uses language suggesting it is possible. I doubt it.”

Brookes first raised his doubts when he contacted Civil Society’s finance Twitter feed, asking whether the report offers any evidence for the claim and saying that based on our news story: “I see only 'aspiration' & supposition”.

He later added: “Calculations look incredible to me”.

“No illusions”

In response, Funding Commission chair Fiona Ellis said the group was “under no illusions that the report makes some ambitious recommendations”.

She added: The investment in the Better Asking Campaign is a small amount, but it is not intended that it will raise the whole additional sum by itself, nor is the increase in funding supposed to come in the first years of the investment. 

“Demographic changes, technical developments and the efforts of existing fundraisers are part of the picture too. 

“£10m judiciously spent on increasing skills, getting trustees more engaged in fundraising strategy and helping charities engage much more appropriately with high net-worth donors, for example, should show leverage continually over the next ten years.”
 

Simon Hebditch
22 Dec 2010

A number of the recommendations of the Funding Commission are welcome but I have to agree with Martin Brookes that the suggested potential growth in charitable giving is over ambitious. I was heavily involved in the last effort to raise the plateau of giving through the Giving Campaign from 2001 to 2004. A first class team and Treasury investment of £3m did not, in the end, lead to a major, sustainable improvement in private philanthropy. A temporary spike, yes, but not a new level of giving.

Of course, that doesn't mean that a new attempt should be made. We have to find new sources of funding to make up for the public spending largesse which is coming to an end.

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