Opportunity: Fundraise better than the best in the business!

The North East Fundraising Conference 2019 is being organised by the Institute of Fundraising North East (IOFNE) in partnership with VONNE and the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

As headline sponsors again this year, the KEDA Consulting team share what the conference theme of GROW means to them through a series of articles exploring Grit, Resilience, Opportunities, Wellbeing. 

Opportunity: Fundraise better than the best in the business!

By Alex Blake, KEDA Consulting

There is a real opportunity for small charities to fundraise better than the big successful fundraising charities (e.g. Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation and so on). Some of what they do is great, such as having clear websites with lots of ways to support the charity, but there are often weaknesses too, such as standardising processes to deal with mass volumes at the cost of building relationships.

What could your competitive advantages be?

If you are focussed on a particular area/issue, then your specific expertise in this niche is a competitive advantage. Many of the larger organisations are spread much more thinly, for example they cover all cancers or all children’s issues and are national with most staff in London. They cannot be an expert in everything and cannot offer a personal service to everyone. So for the people in your area, affected by the issue you are experts in, what can you offer that the big brands cannot?

There are lots of reasons why people would rather donate to or fundraise for a small charity, for example, if you lose someone you love to a rare form of cancer, you might want your donation to find a cure for that particular cancer. If you call Cancer Research UK’s fundraising team, the person answering the phone probably won’t know anything about osteosarcoma, but at the Bone Cancer Research Trust they will do, and that can make a huge difference to the supporter.

Seeing the difference donations make is another big reason – so work on how you demonstrate the impact of your work in a tangible way. This doesn’t need to involve complex impact measurement frameworks; most people respond best to real life stories about how you have made a difference in their community.

Locality can be a powerful advantage – people often want to support their local charities where they can better see the difference their support makes.

Make it easy!

One reason that people donate to / fundraise in aid of the big charities is that they make it so easy to do so. The big fundraising charities have websites that make it very clear how to donate (usually a button on the home page) and have a wide range of ways to fundraise with the required resources, forms, advice etc easily accessible.

Small charities on the other hand often have terrible websites, with clunky donate functions and a lack of ways for people to fundraise. As a minimum, you need to have the basics in place: a donate button (even if it uses an external platform like Paypal), fundraising web pages with content on why and how to fundraise in aid of the charity with Gift Aid forms and a Just Giving page. If someone wants to donate or fundraise for you, don’t lose out because you haven’t put the basics in place.

Then instead of trying to automate like the big charities do by systemising everything into an online process, invite your supporters to get in touch so you can give them a warm and personalised experience.

Make people feel great about supporting you!

People donate based on emotion. Make people feel good about their decision to donate to you rather than the big charities.

One huge advantage of being a small charity is the ability to interact with supporters directly, removing the bottlenecks and bureaucracy of larger organisations and creating space to deliver better experiences and exceed expectations.

Your ability to meet people face to face, respond to inquiries, send handwritten notes and solve problems can result in amazing experiences which yield long-term support and more supporters through word of mouth marketing, online reviews and social media channels.

Better supporter experiences and relationships should be a top priority for any small charity looking to succeed in a competitive fundraising environment.

Shout about it!

Fundraising is all about effective storytelling. Your story will include elements such as the need your charity meets and the difference you make, and it must also include your competitive advantages such as your expertise in a particular niche, your amazing supporter experiences or how you are rooted in your local community.

You need to tell this story through all of your communication channels, in person, in newsletters, on your website, through social media. Be sure to back up your assertions with data and stories in multiple formats.


For the second year running, KEDA Consulting are championing fundraising excellence in our region as headline sponsor for The North East Fundraising Conference. The team is very excited for the event and have a busy two days planned, including:

  • The Lego Approach to Trust Fundraising: a session delivered by our Fundraising Consultant, Amy Appleton and Mat Cottle-Shaw from The Bone Cancer Research Trust
  • A session exploring regional relationships delivered by our Fundraising Consultant Helen Alderson and Jessica Murphy of St Oswald’s Hospice
  • An opportunity for you to shape our 2020 fundraising training programme
  • Chances to win exciting prizes including a spa day for two, free training and £100 for your charity
  • 50 exciting eco-friendly giveaways to match the GROW theme – make sure you get to our interactive stand early to ensure you don’t miss out!

We look forward to seeing you at The North East Fundraising Conference 2019! Don’t have your tickets yet? Book them now and use the discount code ‘KEDA’ to get £30 off!