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Competing in a crowded marketplace

These days, it feels as if there are so many worthwhile causes to support. Everyone has a specific story to tell and, in this economic climate when people have less disposable income, it can be hard to make your voice heard. Theresa Dauncey, our chief executive, talks about how small charities can stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Despite donations by individuals falling by twenty percent from the previous year and opportunities for grants opportunities becoming increasingly limited, last year around 28 million people in the United Kingdom gave an amazing £2.3 billion (NCVO/CAF 2012 report) to charity. It goes to show that despite times being tighter, there are still huge opportunities for charities who can get their fundraising message out to the right people. 

All too often, though, it feels as if it is only the largest charities who can achieve this, affording to run high-profile campaigns on television or employing people to stand on the street. It’s easy to feel envious.  Established charities have fixed fundraising schemes from corporate partnerships and legacies to high-profile events and high street retail. These are all very well and as a group we’re inspired by the achievements of some of the leading charitable organisations – but as a small charity, we can’t even begin to try to replicate this approach to fundraising and neither should we.  

The key challenge for large charities is that there are layers and layers of bureaucracy and board members to speak to before anything can change. When you’re small, you’re flexible; you can scale up, scale down and everyone can suggest their ideas about how to do something new and different. Most importantly, overheads are low, so the maximum amount of donations goes directly to those the charity help and support.

As a small charity of just six employees (and a handful of dedicated volunteers) we are always thinking of ways to develop new channels of fundraising – so last year we responded to the trend for wearing pyjamas outside and launched the Pjyama Party. This year we’re really excited about our Small Acorns initiative. Across many areas of business and society, the ability to innovate is central to finding new ways of doing things – so why not in the third sector as well? To stand out we need to think differently because even when you’re small, you’re even more equipped to do very, very big things.

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