In the present financial climate, fundraising has to move with the times, embracing innovation and new technology whilst retaining a central focus on supporting disabled people to live the lives they choose and developing positive, mutually rewarding donor relationships.
Whilst United Response has funding to cover its core work supporting people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities, this doesn’t cover other activities that can make a real difference to the quality of someone’s life. ‘Extras’ such as getting support to train for a job, achieve a qualification or join a local community group is where fundraising comes in.
In the past, United Response has had great support from trusts, individuals and statutory funds, but unfortunately, in the present financial climate, donors have less money and more demands on their resources. Trusts report record numbers of applications, in some cases receiving up to 20 times more applications than they are able to fund, whilst individuals, themselves often struggling with rising costs and decreasing incomes, are confronted with a plethora of worthy causes on a daily basis.
At such times, the need for charities to work together to not only share fundraising knowledge and best practice but also create and innovate together – spreading the risks whilst sharing the rewards – is obvious.
We were therefore delighted to be selected to take part in the Open Innovation Programme – a strand of the Innovation in Giving Fund managed by NESTA that was announced last year in the Government’s Giving White Paper as a vehicle for creating a step-change in the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money.
Many of the 28 selected charities will go on to receive a share of £1.5m to develop their innovative ideas for encouraging giving. Unusually for a major funding stream however, rather than interested organisations being asked to apply to the programme with existing ideas and partnerships, NESTA is focusing on bringing people together.
Over the next three months, all 28 charities will take part in an extensive programme of coaching, mentoring and capacity building to help organisations find suitable partners and develop their ideas.
We believe we are in a strong position to take advantage of this opportunity. As a national charity with more than 250 services across England and Wales and almost 40 years’ experience of supporting disabled people to take control of their lives, we have the experience, credibility and networks to ensure that innovation is disseminated widely and has truly national impact.
We also have a reputation for quality and innovation within the sector, recognised by NESTA back in 2005 through the awarding of a Fellowship to our Chief Executive Su Sayer for ‘developing innovative talent’ – the aim of which was to ‘stimulate new work and new thinking’.
The Open Innovation programme is an exciting new opportunity for leading charities to come together to form partnerships to meet the common challenges presented by the current economic climate. We at United Response are delighted to be part of this process, and look forward to working with charities from across the sector.
If you have any comments on this blog or thoughts on innovative ways to encourage giving, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Martyn Weeds, Fundraising Manager.