The Canal & River Trust has said it plans to grow its fundraising income “significantly”, following a rebrand last year.
Speaking to Charity Finance magazine, finance director Sandra Kelly said the charity faces challenges to attract donations partly because some people are unaware of it being a charity.
Kelly said: “There is a great challenge to encourage people to donate to you on a regular basis when you have an asset that is free to use.
“It is not like the National Trust where people will take out a membership to receive a discount on entry fees.
“Trying to get people to donate regularly to us is more challenging. When people know what we do, they really are very engaged with it and want to support it.
“People love the water and people love canals, but what they don’t know is that it is us that is maintaining a large number of them.”
Uniquely, the charity gets some income from the licences and mooring fees it charges users of its waterways and Kelly said the charity had clamped down on evasion of these fees.
She said: “There are 35,000 boats on the network and they all have to pay a licence fee. Maybe 90 per cent of them have a mooring as well.
“This year, we had the lowest level of evasion, about 3 per cent, which is quite low and we are really pleased with it. It is not fair on the remaining 97 per cent if they all pay a licence and the others don’t.”
Kelly said the charity can go through a “quite lengthy” process to recover non-payment of licenses, which can involve the boat being seized.
The Canal & River Trust launched new branding last May with the intention of widening the charity’s reach, which Kelly said has been successful.
She said: “There is definitely more awareness of the brand. We have still got a long way that we would like to go, but people are more aware of us. Because it is blue, it is quite bright. So if you are out on the waterways you have more likelihood of seeing it than the traditional black logo.”
Kelly said the new logo fitted with the organisation’s broadening of purpose since separating from the government in 2012.
She said: “When we were in government, it was very much around maintaining the waterways, and being more asset-focused, if that is the best way to describe it. Whereas now we have a broader remit as a charity.
“It is about enjoyment generally, not just boaters, which includes people on canoes, paddle boarders, rowers, and people who use the towpaths as well.
“We were very much black and white, with a logo that was very similar to what we had when we were in British Waterways. So we tried to embrace a much more modern logo.”
Subscribers to Charity Finance magazine can read the full interview with Sandra Kelly here.