Charity Awards 2024

Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ home- investing in fundraising to increase income and impact

In the last six years, Battersea has undergone a transformation in its fundraising, and in its governance of fundraising. Fundraising director Liz Tait recalls the journey.

Our voluntary income outside of legacies has risen considerably since 2010. Several factors contributed to the success of this plan:

  • The willingness of the board to take a long-term view and to believe in the potential of fundraising
  • The right balance of scrutiny and support. We get a lot of support from our trustees but we also get some really tough questions, and that’s important – it’s made us a better fundraising team as a result
  • Ensuring the fundraising strategy aligns with the organisational strategy

Another crucial element has been the ongoing development and review of very detailed, robust projections and quarterly reporting against these. While it’s a lot of work for our fundraisers to produce these, they enabled our trustees to make the right choices, because transformation in terms of fundraising takes time.

We provided our trustees with evidence of what they can achieve over different periods of time, depending on the decisions they make. We never go to them with one plan, we always give them choices.

As well as building confidence that the fundraising team know what they’re talking about, regular and detailed reporting against targets also helps trustees to remember what’s been discussed and agreed previously. It’s an ongoing process about some of the dynamics of fundraising investment. And this ongoing engagement also helps smooth budgeting approval.

Like so many other charities, the UK fundraising stories of 2015 naturally prompted Battersea’s board to cast even greater scrutiny over our activities. The finance committee now has specific designated responsibility for fundraising, and fundraising is on the agenda at every meeting. Under the committee’s direction the charity has already undertaken three chunky pieces of work: a data protection audit; a comprehensive supporter satisfaction survey, and a bottom-up review of compliance against the Fundraising Code of Practice.

Each of these projects led to actions which the fundraising team is now working through and our trustees have been out to meet our fundraising agencies. Face-to-face is very important to us, so last year we had 12 visits by trustees and directors to see our fundraisers in action.

Another piece of work was to produce a very detailed paper about how we, the fundraising team, work with third-party agencies to embed the charity’s values in everything we do. Articulating that for our trustees has supported the work we do with agencies.

Work is ongoing: the induction of all new trustees in the fundraising techniques employed, the recording of messages about the charity’s values to send to agency fundraisers in the field, and the participation of trustees in the annual telephone ‘thankathon’. Mystery shopping of agencies was stepped up and shadowing – accompanying fundraisers on the job – will become a regular feature of monitoring.

All these changes meant the charity devised a new fundraising strategy last year and now we just have to deliver against our ambitious targets.